Skip to main content

Full text of "Recollections of Anna Bissell McCay : with historical data / Anna Bissel McCay."

See other formats


O' 

92~.2 

B543m 

1242286 


GENEALOGY COLLECTION 























ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY 


3 1833 01205 5965 





GC 

929.2 

B543M 


v 




























































































































Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2018 


https://archive.org/details/recollectionsofaOOmcca 



























































































































































: 










■ 


























































. 















































































Melville and Anna Bissell 





<L 


eco 


llecti 


ons 


OF 


ANNA BISSELL McCAY 


With Historical Data 


PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 
MCMXXX VIII 




















COPYRIGHT, 1938 , BY ANNA BISSELL MCCAY 
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY THE CASTLE PRESS 
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 




CONTENTS 


PAGE 



FOREWORD 

CHAPTER I 

-S~. /-w J£r. A. A* O O 

Ancestry. 

ix 

1 


CHAPTER II 

Grandparents .... 

19 


CHAPTER III 

Early Recollections . . . 

28 


CHAPTER IV 

Business and Family ... 

36 


CHAPTER V 

Marriage, Travels .... 

48 


CHAPTER VI 

Automobile Era .... 

60 

ft 

CHAPTER VII 

My Three Brothers ... 

63 

ft 

jy 

CHAPTER VIII 

Still Travelling . . 

68 

CHAPTER IX 

My Son . 

79 

V 

CHAPTER X 

Red Cross, Around the World, Mother’s Death 

83 

< 

CHAPTER XI 

To the Home of My Ancestors. 

90 

IV- 

CONCLUSION 


93 



GENEALOGY 


95 



NECROLOGY 


134 

X\ \ 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 


135 


INDEX 


136 

X 


V 

























ILLUSTRATIONS 

FRONTISPIECE MELVILLE AND ANNA BlSSELL F pAG£ G 

plate i Bissell Coat-of-Arms .ix 

plate ii Bissell Ferry, Ferry Sign Post, Ferry Marker . 6 

plate hi Alpheus Bissell, Lydia Brooks Bissell .... 14 

plate iv Alpheus Bissell.20 

plate v William and Eleanor Putnam Sutherland . . 22 

plate vi Melville and Anna Bissell in 1869, 

Mary Bissell.28 

plate vii The Old Brick House, 28 Sheldon Street ... 30 

plate viii Anna Bissell at twenty-eight with 

Dottie and Matie.32 

plate ix China Store.36 

plate x 103 Chambers Street, New York.38 

plate xi Miss Bliss’ School.40 

plate xii Our House on College Avenue, 

Drawing Room of College Avenue House . 48 

plate xiii Anna Bissell, Melville Bissell, William McCay, 

Harvey Bissell, Anna Bissell McCay, 

Irving Bissell.50 

plate xiv Melville R. Bissell, Harvey Sutherland Bissell, 

Irving Joy Bissell.64 

plate xv Anna Bissell.68 

plate xvi Anna Bissell McCay and 

William Sutherland McCay.78 

plate xvii Mother’s namesake, Ann Sutherland Bissell, 

AS SHE APPEARED WHEN PRESENTED AT THE 

Court of St. James, 1934. 92 

plate xviii "And her children and her children’s children shall 

rise up and call her blessed ” .94 

plate xix Putnam Family Record.116 

vii 




























Bissell Coat-of-Arms 




























































































































































































FOREWORD 


writing my personal reminiscences and a brief historic outline 
m of the Bissell family from the time that John and Thomas Bissell 
I landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1628,1 have attempted to do 

) 1/ two thi n g s: 

/ First: to give a clear genealogical outline of the family, and our 
position on the family tree by means of the charts. 

Second: to show the main characteristics of the family, and how the 
same traits of initiative, honesty, and good citizenship have survived from 
generation to generation, and some of the varying forms under which they 
have been expressed. 

In each generation there seems to have been one of outstanding natural 
endowment, like our father or mother. It will be interesting for those of 
our descendants who may read this simple record to watch for that particular 
outcropping of talent. It will not come from one strain alone, but from 
the two who will pass on the torch of life, and only by a union as nearly 
perfect as that of our parents can there be that renascence. Imperfect 
marriages, or unions with inferior blood strains, will weaken the family 
structure. What affects one tiny branchlet affects the whole family tree, 
and as the oldest living member of the children of Melville and Anna 
Bissell, I am hoping that only the best and finest traits will live on—that 
good pioneer blood. May it pass on unstained! 

Great-grandfather Harvey’s obituary says, "He will be greatly missed 
by the excellent society of Bowe Hill". This present generation has not in 
any way been remarkable, but we have at least lived up to the crest which 
reads, "In rectitude honor”, and to the standards set by the first John Bissell, 
God rest his soul! May all the succeeding generations keep faith! 

There have been the strong and the weak, the simple and the talented, 
but through all has been faith and integrity, a truly precious heritage and a 
sacred trust to pass on to those who will follow us. 


IX 

















































































































































To my forebears^my homage; 

To my contemporaries ^.my greetings; 
To my descendants^my hopes! 
















CHAPTER ONE 


ANCESTRY 

/^tiles ’ 1 "History of Ancient Windsor" gives the important facts of 
the Bissell Family from the time when John Bissell settled in Windsor, 
Connecticut, in 1640, to the birth of my great-grandfather, Harvey 
jnj Bissell, in 1780. 

j7 John Bissell 2 , emigrant ancestor, the son of Thomas and Margaret 
Bysselle 3 , was born in 1591 in Huntington, Somerset County, England, and 
emigrated to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1628. 

"Tradition says that a brother Thomas came with him and that he died 
in Plymouth, or returned to England. John and his family are the only 
persons by the name of Bissell known to have come to America in the early 
days. 

"It is probable that the family is of Huguenot origin; many of whom 
fled to England to escape the persecutions which followed the massacre of 
St. Bartholomew in 1572. Another statement is that the family came from 
France in 1200, and that the head of the family was Sir Emery, or Emymary, 
Beziel, or Besyll, or Bessel,—-later Bissell." 4 

The family in England has a coat-of-arms which is of a religious rather 
than a warlike character, and is thus described: 5 

"Bissell, Gu, on a bend ar. three 
escallops sa. Crest a demi eagle with 
wings disp. sa; charged on the neck 
with an escallop shell, or. Mottoe 
’In Recto Decus”-—In rectitude honor. 

1 Henry R. Stiles, "Histories and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, 1635-1891” 2 
vols. Hartford, 1891 . 

2 Elizabeth Todd Marsh, "Fifty Puritan Ancestors 
3 Ruby Haskins Ellis, article in Public Ledger. 

4 German spelling "Beisel ”. "John Bissill” in an old English will of 1658. "Boisell” 
possibly original French spelling (John Bissell, brother of Leet W. Bissell). 

5 John Burke, Esq., "Encyclopedia of Heraldry or General Armory of England, Scot¬ 
land and Ireland” 3rd. ed. London. 


[1] 





The "Cm on a bend" was red or ruby. The "Three escallops" or shells, is 
an old popular charge, especially in Spain, as the emblem of St. James of 
Campostella, which led to its being the sign of a pilgrim. The seal of 
fraternity of St. James at Wisby, 1200, represents St. James as a pilgrim 
with scallops upon his scrip. Sir Walter Raleigh says "Give me my scallop 
shell of Quiet—my staff of Faith to walk upon". The crest and on wing 
is "au volcrest eagle in peral Franc". It is said that this coat-of-arms refers 
to "The Knight of the brown saddle in France". 

John Bissell 1 2 settled in Windsor in 1639 (with his wife Mary Drake 
and three children). ‘-’He was a juror at Hartford, 1640-43; October, 
1645; March, 1647. In 1648 he was a deputy to the General Court and 
attended 46 sessions of the General and Particular Court before the union 
of the Connecticut and New Haven Colonies, and served in all as juror 
in twelve sessions of the Court at Hartford. He was an enlisted trooper 
from Windsor 1657-8, and was "confirmed by the General Court in 1677". 3 
This was the "first troop of horse" in the Colony. He and his sons, John, 
Jr., Thomas and Nathaniel, were all freemen in Windsor by 1669. 

The first purchase of land made by the people from Dorchester after 
their arrival on the Connecticut was upon the east side of the Great River, 
but the permanent settlement was made on the higher land on the west 
side. A final agreement was made with the Plymouth Colony in 1637, and 
for years afterward there was no settlement except on the west side. John 
Bissell before 1640 received by grant a lot 22 rods wide. He also purchased 
25 rods additional 3 . 

"He lived just one lot above the old Terry Road’ on the west side. 
John Drake lived on the second lot. The third house above was William 
Hayden’s, the then northern outpost of the Windsor settlement. The pres¬ 
ent railroad station at Hayden’s now stands on the land owned by William 
Hayden. William Gaylord, Jr., lived just south of the old Ferry Road." 3 


1 Elizabeth Todd Marsh, ”50 Puritan Ancestors”, page 42. 

2 Hinman, ”Early Puritan Settlers of Conn.”, pp. 235-236. 

3 Stiles’ ” Ancient Windsor”, Vol. I, p. 535. 



Thirteen years later, at the time of King Philip’s War, this house was 
"fortified and garrisoned’’. 1 At that time it was no unusual thing to be 
obliged to live in a stockade or a fortified house. Three companies of 
dragoons of thirty men each were under orders for protection of the people 
of Hartford and Windsor. 

It is said that after the death of Thomas Gibbs in England, John Bissell 
appeared before the Chancery Courts in Worcester, in the year 1641, and 
"gave answer for his wife, Ann’’; meaning that he went to England in that 
year to receive her inheritance from her grandfather’s estate. The winter 
previous was a hard winter in Windsor and many of the cattle died. John 
Bissell was apparently a man of wealth for he wore coat buttons, which 
held the cuffs at the end of the sleeves to his coat, set with diamonds. It is 
said that while in England he removed the stones from the coat buttons 
and sold them, and with the proceeds purchased "ten head of cattle, nine 
cows” and brought them back with him to Windsor. 

There is a tradition in the family that the ferry monopoly, which is 
described later, was given to him in recognition of this very valuable service 
he performed in replenishing the cattle of the settlement. 

The statement regarding the diamond cuff buttons might be doubted, 
but for the fact that they are at the present time in the possession of Mr. 
Benjamin Bissell of Woodbridge, or Seymour, Connecticut. 2 

After John’s death they became the property of his son, Thomas, and 
later of Lieut. Isaac Bissell of Litchfield, who was a great land owner. He 
gave them to his second son, Benjamin, of Litchfield, who is said to have 
owned a thousand acres; then to his second son, Benjamin Bissell of Litch¬ 
field. He had no second son Benjamin, so they went to Benjamin, of Tor- 
rington—the second son of Zebulon Bissell, who was his nephew. He gave 
them to his second son Benjamin, who now possesses them. It is reported 
that he has no second son Benjamin, and that he has said if he had a second 

1 Elizabeth Todd Marsh, "50 Puritan Ancestors”. 

^Statement made by Mrs. Almira A. Bissell, 22 Trumbull St., New Haven, Conn. 

Authenticated by Chester Bissell, Litchfield, brother of Benjamin Bissell of 

Woodbridge, at the Bissell Family Reunion, Sept. 25, 1937. 


[3 ] 




son he would not name him Benjamin. Where the cuff buttons will go 
next is not known. It is said that a letter "B” is cut in the face of the 
buttons where the stones were taken out. The reason for their going to the 
"second son, Benjamin" is because Lieut. Isaac Bissell gave them to his 
second son, Benjamin, with the injunction that they should descend from 
generation to generation, and they be given only to a second son by the 
name of Benjamin". 

The following story was sent to the family in 1925 by Dr. W. D. Morse, 
of Hartford, Connecticut, who was then engaged in historical research. 
Though Dr. Morse says this is an historical fact, the story seems to me a 
combination of fact and fancy, and as such I insert it. Its improbability 
rests in the fact that the first John Bissell had been dead for many years 
in 1698, and the three younger Johns (John, son of John; John, son of 
Thomas; and John, son of Samuel), would all have been in their prime. 
In 1664 the Bissell ferry had been taken over by the town; still it is not 
impossible that one of the John Bissells might have been operating it. 

"When the people of Windsor Farms, Connecticut, had 'embodied 
themselves in church estate’ with the 'consent of neighbor churches’ they 
set about the task of securing a minister, finally engaging the Reverend 
Timothy Edwards, a Harvard graduate. In all that constituted a promising 
clergyman he excelled, and to cap this excellence, was engaged to marry 
Esther Stoddard. Simultaneous with ordination the new minister and his 
wife took possession of a new house built for them by his father. The 
townspeople wished to do something toward 'the making of provition’ for 
the young people, and gave them a house-warming and donation party, 
every man to give something useful. 

"On May 28, 1698, according to Captain Thomas Stoughton’s account 
book, 'with one accord the people did assemble at his, the minister’s house, 
bringing in things’—the things for which they had been 'sessed’. The list 
is formidable. 

"One of the parishioners, however, had not come, nor had he sent the 
thing he was supposed to provide. The recreant was John Bissell, a 'most 
worthy man’ and by appointment of the town under contract to 'undertake 


C4] 


to keep and carefully attend to the ferry’—a man somewhat advanced in 
years, but still attending to his duty. As evening came on Mr. Bissell 
arrived, but instead of bringing that which he had been asked to supply, 
the old man marched in, and in the good old way 'made his manners’. 
Depositing his packet on the floor, he said, 

" 'Dominie, I have heard said by your lady’s grandsir, that where it says 
in Isaiah 14:25 "sweeping with a besom” the word was old English for a 
broom. I was asked to bring you a broom, but I am quite sure you will not 
need, in this your well-regulated house, that instrument of destruction, 
which, as I take it, raises as much dust as it sweeps.’ 

"Deftly untying the strings, he produced a spinet!. With a stately bow 
he presented it to the minister’s wife. Then, standing erect, he said: 

" 'Marm, I was told to bring with me the instrument of destruction, 
but instead I bring this instrument of music, which please accept’.” 

The subject of a ferry in Windsor was first agitated in 1641, but the 
first positive action appears in a contract made by the General Court in 
1648-9 with John Bissell. At that time he received a grant from the Colony 
of Connecticut which was in effect a monopoly for seven years to run a 
ferry from the house in which he lived on the west side, across the river 
to a point near where the Quarry Company later built a wharf. After the 
expiration of the lease it was renewed by himself and his successors down 
to 1664, when it reverted to the town. In 1677 it was leased by Nathaniel 
Bissell and operated by him for a period of seven years, after which time 
it again reverted to the town and was operated by it for about thirty years. 
In 1716 Jonathon Bissell leased the ferry for four years, and again in 1726 
Jonathon Bissell and Daniel Bissell leased it until 1734. Later it became 
the property of the state which kept it open for passengers and teams until 
1925, at which time it was discontinued by an act of the legislature. For 
many years the ferry boat had the words "John Bissell” painted on each 
side, and the ferry was called "Bissell’s Ferry” as long as it continued in 
existence. A marker has been placed at the entrance to the lane leading 
to the ferry by the Abigail Wolcott Ellsworth Chapter of the Daughters 
of the American Revolution which reads: 


[ 5 ] 


“1633 ... - 1933 

“BISSELL’S FERRY 

“This marks the Road to Bissell's Ferry, established by the 
General Court of Connecticut in 1641. Operated by the Bissell 
Family for nearly one hundred years. Later leased to various 
townsmen and continuously operated until 1917. The original 
crossing was sixty rods north of Chief Justice Ellsworth s house. 

The location was changed in 1677.” 

The following entry from the town records of Windsor gives a state¬ 
ment regarding the ferry, a time-table and schedule of fares: 

“January 1648: John Bissell undertakes to keep and carefully attend 
the ferry over the Great River at Windsor for the full term of seven years 
from this day, and that he will provide a sufficient boat for the carrying 
over of horses and foot upon all occasions, and shall, if his own occasion 
should necessitate him at any time to go out of call from his house or ferry, 
then he will provide some able man in his room to attend that service, for 
which the said John Bissell is to have of those he ferries over eight pence 
for every person that goes over therewith or that hath another passenger 
to go over the ferry at the same time, and three pence for every person 
that goes over the said ferry alone, single, without any more than himself 
at the same time; and the Court prohibits all other persons (except the 
inhabitants of Windsor who have liberty to carry over themselves or neigh¬ 
bors in their own canoe or boat) from carrying over the said ferry any 
passenger or passengers when the said John Bissell or his assignee, is 
present or within call of his ferry or house.” 1 

The Windsor Historical Society has an old sign board on which are 

given the later rates of toll: 

RATES OF TOLL WINDSOR FERRY 


horse, wagon and driver .... - . 12 p 2 c 

wagon, two horses, driver.25c 

led horse..06i/ 2 c 

ox or other neat kine..061/ 2 c 

sheep, swine or - -- -- -- 7 mills 

oxteam, 2 oxen, driver.-29c 


each additional on horse, other beast same as above 

TRUST 

1 Barber’s "Historical Sketches of Connecticut ”. 

[ 6 ] 




Bissell Ferry 



Ferry Marker 












The crossing at that time was located a mile or more north of the last 
crossing and about 60 rods north of the present Ellsworth homestead, pur¬ 
chased in 1926 by the D. A. R. The removal of the ferry to a more southern 
location was made between 1663 and 1667 and at that time it was ordered 
to be kept in running from "Break of day to evening shut”. 

"When it is remembered that the people living on the east side of the 
river were ordered to the west side for protection from the Indians at 
different times for many years, and that they all belonged to and attended 
church on the west side of the river, it will be seen that the ferry was a 
necessity as well as a convenience.” 1 

It is interesting to note that the memorable Hooker Party, which jour¬ 
neyed from Cambridge to Hartford in 1636, crossed the Great River at 
the place where the Bissell ferry was later operated, and came up the path 
on which John Bissell later located his house. 

John Bissell was the first inhabitant to locate permanently on the east 
side of the river as well as being one of the first settlers on the west side. 
Evidence seems to point to the fact that John Bissell built on the east side 
as early as 1658 or 1660. In 1662 he gave or sold his property on the west 
of the river to his son John, and moved with another son, Nathaniel, to 
the east side. About this time John Coult moved up from Hartford and 
settled in Podunk. 

Increase Mather, in his "History of Remarkable Providence” relates 
this story of Nathaniel: 

"On January 13, 1670, three women, having gone across the Connecti¬ 
cut River to help some friends, were desirous of returning to their homes 
and families, but the weather was extremely cold. Nathaniel Bissell took 
the three women in a canoe and started to cross the river, but when they 
were about midway in the stream a large piece of ice struck the canoe and 
crushed it, leaving Bissell and the three women floating among the drifting 
cakes of ice; but Bissell was an active swimmer and by great exertion was 
able to get the women upon the cakes of ice and to the shore in safety.” 

In a list headed, "The location of the earliest land owners on the east 

1 Colonial Records, Memorial History of Hartford County. 

[7] 














side of the Connecticut River, 1640-1653” is given the description of John 
Bissells Sr. lot, which is second from the north town line. It reads as 
follows: 

"John Bissell, Sr., over the great river opposite to Pynemeade (Windsor 
Locks) he hath by the river 72 rods more or less; and on the s. it is bounded 
by Anth. Hawkins from the river eastward 160 r. . . . and thence he runs 
eastward 2l/ 2 m. Yts. bdd. on N. by line that runs next 60 r. in breadth of 
this he hath from the Plantation—the rest by purchase." 

"The Bissells were large purchasers of east side lands both on their 
own account and as agents of the town.” 1 

"The 8th lot in the above list belonged to John Bissell, Sr., and was 24 
rods wide on the river and 3 miles deep. The 29th lot was also John Bissell s 
and ran back 2 m. It lay between two lots owned by John Drake.” 2 

In an old pamphlet is a copy of a 'Colony map’ which shows the south 
line of the Massachusetts Bay Colony which is supposed to run due west 
at 41 deg. and 55 min. This line is identified as it crosses the state by ponds, 
hills and Indian wigwams. The surveyors located the line on the west side 
of the Connecticut River as running directly through John Bissell’s Tavern, 
and on the east side as running through "Widow Gibb’s house”. It is a 
little singular that the house should be exactly on the line of 41 deg. and 
55 min. It is said that the surveyors sighted the Bissell house from the east 
side of the river and used this as a definite starting point after crossing the 
river to proceed laying out the line which should later separate Massachu¬ 
setts and Connecticut. This was the famous Woodward and Saffrey line 
of 1642. The people of Windsor who lived north of the line and those in 
Enfield stoutly protested against being in Massachusetts until 16— when 
the matter was adjusted and they were taken into the Connecticut Colony. 

"The Bissells, as has been said, were the first settlers on the east side 
of the river and settled on the south side of the mouth of the Scontic River. 
They were very large land owners and purchased a tract from the Indians. 
They owned a saw-mill and purchased the right to cut all the logs fit to saw 

1 Stiles* Ancient Windsor”, Vol. 1, page 554. 

2 lbid, page 541. 


[ 8 ] 



at a saw-mill with the exception of ‘oaks fit for clapboards and shingles’ 
on a strip of primeval forest extending back from the river 2 m., for 500 
ft. of good boards at the saw-mill and slabs enough to cover a floor in a 
house.” 1 

"The Bissell home on the east side of the river was known as Bissell’s 
Tavern. For nearly a century an old sign hung from the house, and later 
from the limb of a large elm tree whose branches extended over the ferry 
road. 

"Originally it bore an elaborate design of 13 interlacing rings, each 
having in its center the representation of some tree or plant peculiar to the 
state it designated. Those interlacing links surrounded the profile of 
George Washington. Above was the legend, ‘The 13 United States’ and 
beneath this: 

'Entertainment by David Bissell, A.D. 1777.’ 

"Ten years later the words ‘David Bissell’ were painted out and 'E. 
Wolcott’ substituted. The date 1787 was also placed in both upper corners 
of the board. 

"In 1801 the sign and house came to Joseph Phelps. A new design was 
given—a copy of the first gold eagle of 1795, and on the reverse side of the 
same the name 'J. Phelps’. 

"In 1816 J. Pelton bought the Ferry Tavern and painted out all of 
J. Phelps’ name ‘since the initials were his own’. He was the proprietor at 
the time the sign was hung in the large elm tree.” 2 

John Bissell was succeeded in the ownership of the original homestead 
by his son John, and he by his son Daniel, who was born in 1663; "He by 
his son Daniel, b. 1694, and he by his son, Serj. Daniel, b. 1754, who re¬ 
mained on the homestead until 1790 when he removed to Randolph, Vt.” 

The old house was then sold to Jacob Osborn who removed it to another 
part of town. The original John Bissell home-lot in old Windsor was owned 
and occupied in 1891 by Henry and Stephen Hills, and their house, erected 


1 Stiles’ "Ancient Windsor", Vol. 1, p. 541. 

2 "Neiv England Taverns”. 

191 



about 1800 by Josiah Bissell, grandson of John Bissell, Sr., stands about 
20 rods north of the site of the original Bissell house. 

Daniel Bissell, a great-great grandson of John Bissell, and nephew of 
Ezekiel Bissell, Sr., of Suffield and Torringford, a Revolutionary soldier, at 
the request of Gen. Washington left the Colonial army and was proclaimed 
a deserter. Following instructions he entered the British lines and obtained 
information, after which he returned to the American Army. There is on 
record a document signed by George Washington 

”... WHEREAS . . . Serjeant Daniel Bissell, of the 2nd Con¬ 
necticut Regiment has performed some important service, within 
immediate knowledge of the Commander-in-Chief, in which 
fidelity, perseverance and good sense . . . throughout a long 
course of service ... is highly deserving commendation. NOW 
. . . Daniel Bissell has been invested with the Honorary Badge 
of Military Merit and is entitled to pass and repass all guards, 
etc. ... 9th day of May A.D. 1783” 

It is said that there were only three such papers issued, including the one 
issued to Daniel Bissell. 

In an order signed by General Washington August 7, 1782, the badge 
of the purple heart is described: 

”... for singularly meritorious action performed the author of 
it shall be permitted to wear on his facings over the left breast 
the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk, edged with narrow 
lace or binding. Not only instances of unusual gallantry, but 
also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service shall meet with 
due reward.” 1 

Legend says that the rowel of Serj. Bissell’s spur caught and tore a 
fragment from the purple skirt of his beloved. From this scrap she fash¬ 
ioned a purple heart, edged with lace, and at dawn, as he was about to 
report for duty, she pinned it on her lover’s breast. 

According to an account in the New York Herald-Tribune Magazine, 
in 1932, after a lapse of one hundred and fifty years, and in honor of its 
founder, George Washington, the decoration was revived by the War De- 


x Stiles’ "Ancient Windsor”, Vol. 1, p. 341. 

[ 10 ] 



partment. On August 7, 1937, in Philadelphia, members of the Purple 
Heart Association met in convention. 

A bronze tablet on a granite boulder has been erected in front of the 
original Bissell house bearing the following inscription: 



Birth place 
of 


Daniel Bissell 
Patriot Spy 
in the 

American Revolution 
1754—1824 



This tablet is the property of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the 
American Revolution. 

A good description of the life of Daniel Bissell has been written by 
Mr. F. Clarence Bissell, of Hartford, Connecticut, a descendant of the 
original John Bissell. 

The children 1 of John Bissell were: Mary, born in England, married 
Jacob Drake, April 12, 1649; John, born in England, married Isabel Mason, 
June 17,1658. He died in 1693. Thomas, born in England, married Abigail 
Moore; Samuel, born in England, married Abigail Holcomb, June 11, 1658, 
died May 17, 1698; Nathaniel, born in Windsor September 22, baptized 
September 24, 1640, married Mindwell Moore, September 23, 1665; Joice 
(or Joyce) married Samuel Pinney, November 7, 1665. 

John Bissell’s first wife 2 died May 21, 1641, and John Bissell died 
October 3, 1677, leaving an estate, according to the inventory, of £520,16s. 
3d. The following is a copy of his will: 3 

1 Old church records. 

2 Elizabeth Marsh, "50 Puritan Ancestors”. 

3 Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records” compiled by Charles William 
Manwaring, Vol. I, Published by R. S. Peck & Co., Hartford, 1904. 

[ 11 ] 




"John Bissell, Windsor, Invt. £520-16-03. Taken 22 October, 

1677, by Daniel Clark, Benjamin Newbery, Return Strong. 

Will dated September 1673: 

"I, John Bissell, of Windsor doe make this my Last Will & 

Testament: I give to my daughter Mary, the wife of Jacob Drake, 

£10; to my daughter Joyce, wife of Samuel Finney, £30; I give 
to my son John £50. The remainder of my estate after my just 
debts and funeral charges are paid, with 20 shillings a piece to 
each of my grand-children naturally descending from my foure 
sons and two daughters I bequeath to my foure sons, John, 

Thomas, Samuel and Nathaniel. The remainder of my estate to 
be equally divided. I appoint my sons John and Thomas Bissell 
to be executors. I desire Deacon John Moore and Daniel Clark 
to be supervisors. 

John X Bissell, L.S. 

Witness: John Moore, Sen. 

Daniel Clark 

Court Record, page 165 6 December, 1677. Will approved." 

John Bissell, the emigrant ancestor, after a long and active life, was 
buried in the First Congregational Churchyard at Windsor, Connecticut. 
The simple inscription on his tombstone 

"Here lyeth the body of John Bissell, deceased Oct. the 3rd, 

1677, in the 86th year of his age.” 

gives no hint of his colorful career as pioneer in community enterprises, 
his services as deputy to the General Court in 1648 and later, as a member 
of the Windsor Troop of Horse in 1657; Captain of the Windsor Dragoons 
in King Philip’s War in 1675; quartermaster of the Hartford County Troop 
of Horse in 1677, the very year of his death at 86 years of age. 

Thomas, 1 second son of John Bissell, was born in England; died 
July 31, 1689, in Windsor, Connecticut. He settled on the east side of the 
river, and in 1655 bought a house and eleven and a quarter acres of land 
of Thomas Gilbert on the west side of Main Street, Windsor, but he resided 
most of his life on the east side of the river. He acknowledged the half¬ 
way convenant and was admitted to the ^XTndsor Church, February 31? 
1661. His wife was admitted by the same course February 28th following. 
He married October 11, 1655, Abigail, daughter of Deacon John and Abi- 

'Cutting’s "Genealogical History of Conn.”, Vol. II, pp. 1169-1172. 

[ 12 ] 



gail Moore, of Windsor. Their children were: Thomas, b. 1657; Abigail, 
1658; John, 1660; Joseph, 1663; Elizabeth, 1666; Benjamin, 1669; Sarah, 
1671; Isaac, 1682; Ephraim, died young; Esther, 1677; Ephraim II, 1680; 
and Luke, 168—. 

"Lieutenant Isaac Bissell, fifth 1 son of Thomas and Abigail 
(Moore) Bissell, was born September 22, 1682, in Windsor, and died 
February 6, 1744, in Litchfield, Connecticut where he settled about 1723 
and became the founder of the Litchfield branch of the family.” 2 He pur¬ 
chased for four hundred and fifty pounds one sixtieth of the town of Litch¬ 
field (about seven hundred acres) and built what was subsequently known 
as the "old red house”, 3 which was demolished about 1857, being then the 
oldest building in town. 

He married May 2, 1706, Elizabeth Osborn, born December 17, 1684, 
in Windsor, the daughter of John and Abigail (Egglestone) Osborn, of 
Welsh origin, who came to America from England in the "Hector” in 1638, 
and settled in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1644. Children: Isaac, b. 1709; 
Elizabeth, 1710-11; Abigail, 1712; Sarah, 1713; Joel, 1714; Benjamin, 
1717; Roger, 1718; George, 1720; Joseph, 1722; and Zebulon, 1724. 


1 lsaac, born 1682, seventh son. 

2 Cutting's "Genealogical History of Western N. Y.” Vol. Ill, page 1461. 

*Mrs. James Doyle of Litchfield, whose husband’s mother was a Bissell, and who was 
herself born a Bissell, has today (Septe??iber 21, 1937) pointed out the land 
owned by Isaac I, extending from the Bantam Road, across Bantam Lake, in all 
directions. She also pointed out the different farms given to the sons a?id 
daughters of Isaac Bissell. It is said that the original Bissell house, which stood 
on North Street, on the site of what later became the Pierce Female Seminary, 
between the Sheldon Tavern and the Lord Lynde House, was moved to Marsh 
Flats, or, as it was then called "Bissell’s Corners” two miles east on the Bantam 
Road. This house was later added to by the Vaills, who intermarried with the 
Bis sells, and occupied by them for over a hundred years. It is now owned by 
the Alexander Mac Arthurs, who have remodelled most successfully and intelli¬ 
gently the entire house. The original design of the house was of the lean-to type, 
but the roof was later cut off leaving two equal portions. An interesting stairway 
rises under an arch formed by the two chimneys opening into the north and 
south rooms. A large chimney originally occupied the space now used by the 
stairway. The hearthstone of the old wing is the original one. 

[ 13 ] 



"Isaac II, 1 * eldest son of Isaac I, and Elizabeth (Osborn) Bissell, was 
born March 9, 1709, in Windsor, died in 1777 in that town, where he made 
his home. He married October 1, 1746, but only the baptismal name of his 
wife Sarah is preserved.” Children: Isaac III, b. 1747; Luther, 1751; 
Sarah, 1749; Calvin, 1753, Olive (r) ; Archelaus, 1758.” 

Isaac III, 3 eldest son of Isaac II, and Sarah (Stone) Bissell, was born 
August 5, 1747, in Windsor, and died June 19, 1823, in Hartwick, N. Y. 
He resided for a time in Litchfield, Connecticut, and about 1790, removed 
to Bowe Hill, in the town of Hartwick, Otsego County, N. Y. He left 
Litchfield June 11, "with his wife and their ten children, taking also one 
horse and yoke of oxen, a cow and ten sheep.” The first three nights of 
their journey of two hundred miles through the wilderness were spent with 
friends or relatives along the way. "In fording streams it was found neces¬ 
sary to lead the horse in first, after which the other animals followed. The 
journey consumed three weeks. Acquaintances had preceded them to the 
new settlement, and these took hold on their arrival and assisted in build¬ 
ing a log house for a home. Shortly afterwards they built a frame house 
which is still standing.” Isaac Bissell married December 13, 1770, Alathea 
(Abiatha) Way, daughter of George Way, Quaker, of New London, Con¬ 
necticut. Children: John, born 1771; Luther, 1773, Orange, 1775; Levi, 
1777; Sally, 1778; Harvey, 1780; Benjamin, 1782; Norman, 1784; Peggy, 
1786; Polly (Molly), 1790; Isaac IV, 1792—d. 1841. 

However, according to authentic lists, the children of Isaac III, and 
Alathea (Way) Bissell were eleven in number, including Isaac IV; but 
only ten moved to New York in 1799- Harvey, born July 23, 1780, was, 
therefore, nineteen years of age at this time, and it is probable that he 
stayed on in Connecticut and soon afterwards married Miriam Holcomb, 
(Jan. 12, 1780—September 16, 1868), for on January 24, 1801, my grand¬ 
father, Alpheus, was born in Canaan, Conn. His younger brothers and 
sisters were all born in Mt. Vision, New York. The other children of 


1 Cutting's "Genealogical History of Conn.”, Vol. II, pp. 1169-1172. 

*Mrs. Pauline McClelland, Mandan, No. Dak., gives this surname as "Stone”. 

3 Cutting’s "Genealogical History of Western N. Y”, Vol. Ill, p. 1461. 

[ 14 ] 



Alpheus Bissell Lydia Brooks Bissell 













































Harvey and Miriam Bissell were: Elvira, born 1799, married Elisha Lyon; 
Alpheus, b. 1801; Frederick Holcomb, 1803; Almira, 1808, married Wil¬ 
liam Robinson; Mattison and Seth (twins) born 1817. Later on Harvey 
and Miriam (Holcomb) Bissell joined the family in Hartwick, New York, 
where he died in 1852. Both Harvey and Miriam Bissell are buried in Mt. 
Vision cemetery. Isaac Bissell III, died at Hartwick in 1823. 

Our grandfather, Alpheus Bissell, the son of Harvey and Miriam (Hol¬ 
comb) Bissell, was born January 24, 1801, in Canaan, Connecticut (accord¬ 
ing to his death notice in a Grand Rapids paper, February 10, 1897), and 
died February 9, 1897, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was married May 
13, 1824, in New York State (probably at Bowe Hill), to Lydia Brooks, 
the daughter of Reuben Brooks (October 19,1763—-October 21, 1843) and 
Rocksa (Pritchard) Brooks (November 18, 1784— .. . 1808) of Pittsfield, 
Massachusetts. Great-grandfather Reuben Brooks had enlisted no less than 
five times in the Revolutionary Army, and so was at the very beginning of 
our national era. He also served in the War of 1812, and was granted a 
pension, the certificate of which was signed by Louis Cass, Secretary of 
War in Jackson’s administration. He was only twenty years of age when 
his last term of service in the Revolutionary War ended. He lived to be 
eighty years old, and died in Pittsfield in 1843. The Brooks family history 
goes back to Henry Brooks, who came from Cheshire, England, in 1680, 
and settled in Wallingford, Connecticut. 

Dr. Samuel Doolittle Brooks, a half-brother of my grandmother Lydia, 
was one of the first and most distinguished alienists of his time, and was in 
the forefront of advanced and humane ideas in the treatment of the insane. 
Lyman Brooks, an own brother of Lydia, married Laura Bissell, daughter 
of Orange Bissell and Sally (Guild) Bissell, 1 and thus doubly united the 
Bissell and Brooks strains. I believe that Calvin Brooks was a twin brother, 
and his and hers may have been the double wedding to which my grand¬ 
mother often referred. 

Grandmother Lydia was one of twenty-three children—sixteen sons and 
seven daughters (two mothers). She was born July 14, 1803, in Pittsfield, 


'Lyman Brooks’ second wife was Mary Sophronia Bissell Weller, sister of Laura. 

[15] 



Massachusetts, and died February 10, 1893, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 
Both grandmother and grandfather were from large families, and both 
were the children of farmers. One of my earliest recollections is their talk 
of Mt. Vision and Bowe Hill, which seemed to them a "summum bonum” 
and in my mind still remains a sort of enchanted place. 

Their children 1 were four: 

Harvey Lyman (named for his paternal grandfather) was born in 
1826 and died in 1901, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He married Lucy 
Korilla—(b. 1828—d. 1906)—no children. 

Ann Eliza (1827—December 25, 1916), married, February, 1850, Wil¬ 
liam Henry Harvey, and had two children: Walter Justis (b. Dec. 16, 1852 
—d. Jan. 12, 1938), and Emma Irene (b. 1856—d. Apr. 22, 1915, Los 
Angeles, California) unmarried. Walter was twice married and the father 
of one son, Ray Harvey. His second marriage was to May C. Mathews, 
May 28, 1873, of Los Angeles, California—no children. 

Mary Lucilla (b. 1837—d. May 3, 1902, Dansville, N. Y.) unmarried. 

Melville Reuben, b. Sept. 25, 1843, Hartwick, N. Y.—d. Mar. 15, 
1889), named for his maternal grandfather, Reuben Brooks, and Melville, 
a missionary. On Nov. 29, 1865, in DePere, Wisconsin, when twenty-one 
years of age, my father married Ann Sutherland, (December 2, 1846— 
November 8, 1934), daughter of Captain William Sutherland of River 
John, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Mother was just nineteen, lacking three 
days, at the time of her marriage. Her father, William Sutherland (Octo¬ 
ber 27, 1811—January, 1907) was born in Sutherlandshire, Scotland, the 
son of Charles Sutherland (February 13, 1786—January 12, 1853) and 
Tamor (Traves or Traviss) Sutherland, (October 4,1783—June 13,1861). 
The Sutherlands had first settled around Boston, but being Tories, returned 
to Scotland after the American Revolution. Later they came to Nova Scotia, 
and another branch came to the United States and settled in West Virginia. 
Eleanor Putnam, wife of William Sutherland, was born in River John, 
Nova Scotia, the daughter of ^(^illiam Putnam (May 8, 1787) and Eleanor 
Hendry (October 31,1790). Grandfather Sutherland ran away from home 

1 Stones in Valley City Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

[ 16 ] 



when he was fourteen years old—a bold and adventurous spirit—and 
shipped as cabin boy. Three times did he sail around the world after be¬ 
coming the master of his own ship, and three times was he shipwrecked. 
He had two wives and large families by both. The children of the first 
marriage (Eleanor Putnam) were: 

1. James; 2. Eliza; 3. Agnes (Fannie) ; 4. William; 5. Anna. 

His second marriage was with Elizabeth Redmond, and their children 
were: 

1. Franklin Thompson; 2. Eleanor; 3. Clara May (Callie) ; 4. Charles An¬ 
drew; 5. Kitty (Hattie Bell) ; 6 Frederick Spofford; 7. George; 8. Melville Reuben; 
9. Arthur. 

This is a very brief sketch of the Sutherland family, but since this is a 
Bissell genealogy I shall not be able to go further. 

The children of Melville and Anna (Sutherland) Bissell were: 

1. Anna Dotelle (Dorothy) (born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, December 11, 1868) 
2. Lily May (Matie) (born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 31, 1871—died No¬ 
vember 30, 1878) ; 3. Melville Reuben, II (born April 7, 1882, Grand Rapids) ; 
4. Harvey Sutherland (born October 22, 1885, Grand Rapids) ; 5. Irving Joy (born 
January 12, 1888, Grand Rapids). 

Anna Dotelle (Dorothy) Bissell married William Stewart McCay 
(February 16,1857^-March 8, 1935) at Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 
23, 1890. They had one child, William Sutherland McCay, (born February 
16, 1900). 

William Sutherland McCay married in Pasadena, California, April 
26, 1930, Katharine Tilt (Nevins) (born September 8, 1895, Chicago, 
Illinois). They have two children: 

1. Sabra Ellsworth, born September 8, 1931, Pasadena; 2. Dorothy Bissell, 
born March 7, 1936, in Pasadena. 

As far back as my knowledge extends, the great-great grandfather, 
William Baldwin McCay, (originally McKaye Clan, whose titular head 
is Lord Reay), lived in Scotland. His son, William Wallace McCay (b. 
April 9, 1790), came to the United States with his body-servant John. 
When John was asked his name he said he was "McCay’s John”. Mother 
Gilbert always said that he changed his name to McCoy and was the 


[ 17 ] 


founder in this country of that family. William Wallace McCay was 
sent over to settle the Pulteney Land Lstate, Hath, Steuben Co., New York. 
He was one of the builders of the community, and founded a large and 
important family. His wife was Sarah Newbold. Their children were: 

L Mary—m. Henry Harvey Cook, of New York City; children: Marianna— 
m. Gen. Clinton McDougal; Louise, m. M. Rumsey Miller; Sarah, m. C. F. Ganson; 
Fannie, m. John Henry Keene; Georgie, m. Count Carlos de Heredia. 2. Robert— 
not married; 3. Thomas Mumford—m. Frances Satterlee Dunn; 4. Fannie—-m. 
Nathaniel Howells; 5. William Barton— m. Sabra Stewart Ellsworth; 6. Sarah— 
b Jan 28, 1832—d. Feb. 2. 1833; 7. Louise—m. Frank Bixby; 8. Jennie—m. 
George Beebe, of Jackson, N. Y.; 9. Sophie—m. Eugene Mulligan. 

They were intermarried with the Hodgmans, Rumseys, Millers and Ells¬ 
worths of New York. 

William Barton McCay was born March 18, 1824. He served as 
lientenant in the Civil ^X^ar, and died October 21, 1868. 

William Stewart McCay was born February 16, 1857, in Keyport, 
New Jersey, and came to Grand Rapids to live in 1876 when his mother, 
Sabra Ellsworth McCay, married Frank Gilbert, the brother of Thomas 
Gilbert of Grand Rapids, Michigan, formerly of Deerfield, Massachusetts. 
Their sister, Susan Gilbert, married Austin Dickinson, the brother of Emily 
Dickinson. They were the parents of Martha Gilbert Dickinson Bianchi, 
also a well-known writer, and editor of The Life and Letters of Emily 
Dickinson”. Many fascinating stories Mother Gilbert poured into my eager 
ears of the Dickinson home and family life in that charming old house in 

Amherst. 


[ 18 ] 


CHAPTER TWO 


GRANDPARENTS 



art wick, New York, was the center of a rich farming district, 
and all the Bissells were interested in farming, dairy products 
and eggs, or were small merchants in their own towns. In 
Massachusetts, where Grandmother had lived as a girl, there 
had been in the early days great fear of the Indians, and I can 
remember how terrified I was at some of her stories about Indian raids. 
That was a part of my childhood which seems strange now in the midst of 
present so-called civilization. Yesterday’s paper tells of the blowing up of 
hundreds of people in the Alcazar in Toledo, Spain, which makes the 
tommyhawking of a few whites in the early days of Massachusetts seem 
like a mild episode. These may have been stories that Grandmother had 
heard as a child from her parents, but I believed them to have happened to 
her. Fennimore Cooper lived at Otsego Hall, in Cooperstown, New York, 
and Grandmother used to tell me of her visits there. 

To read the old biographies I judge the Bissells were of a religious turn 
of mind and seemed to derive great pleasure from the so-called consola¬ 
tions of religion, though I do not believe it interfered with their daily 
pursuits, or kept them from driving a good bargain. Grandfather, so a 
biography says, was "a successful and well-to-do farmer, keeping a large 
dairy; and his home was called the "Methodist Minister’s Home”. He en¬ 
gaged in the dry-goods business for many years; afterwards, at the age of 
forty-seven, he moved his family to Racine, Wisconsin. In 1851 they moved 
again, this time to Berlin, Wisconsin. Walter Harvey has told me that he 
remembers Grandfather’s tales of floating logs down the Fox River when 
engaged in the lumber trade. He speculated in wheat, lumber and real 
estate, and on Black Friday (so-called), in 1859, he lost his entire fortune, 
said to have been about sixty thousands of dollars, but he was only one of 
thousands of others who had a similar experience. After this, Grandfather 
seemed to have lost his grip, and Father, who was then about thirteen years 


[ 19 ] 


of age, settled down to the business of supporting the entire family. At 
seventeen he became its virtual head. Grandfather never quite recovered 
from the loss his pride suffered, and he was embittered to the end of his 
days. 

In I860 they moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where they opened a 
china store. Father had been married in DePere, Wisconsin, and went with 
his bride to Kalamazoo, and there I was born December 11, 1868. In 1869 
they made their final trek to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they opened 
a china store on Canal Street. "A. Bissell and Sons” was painted over the 
door, but my father and my mother, Anna, planned, directed and labored 
there—how hard no one will ever know. Grandfather never again took an 
active part in the business. In 1876 there came to father the idea of an 
improvement in the "Welcome”, a carpet sweeper made in Goshen, Indiana. 
The idea was put into practical form, and from that time on business 
prospered, though it was often a hard row, with many patent suits, which 
were always won; but of this later. 

Grandfather always wore the very best quality of fine black broadcloth 
with "pantaloons”, as he called them, cut sailor fashion, buttoning on the 
sides, and a high silk hat which he never removed except when he went 
to bed. He had become bald very early in life and he positively refused 
to wear a cap of any kind. His beard was long and snowy white. He was 
a handsome old gentleman and something of a tyrant, but grandmother 
was not slow either, and many a good scrap did I hear. Aunt Mary also 
was famous for her temper, and all the Bissells except Father loved an 
argument. 

Grandmother too was very good looking, with blue eyes, rosy cheeks, 
and fair, lovely skin. Her hair was always beautifully arranged in a very 
simple manner, parted in the middle and drawn over her ears. She dressed 
usually in a black silk dress, with a black silk apron, and always a cap made 
of lace or tulle, or crepe lisse, as it was called. She was a wonderful cook 
and excelled in the baking of bread and cakes and making all kinds of 
pickles, jams and preserves. Especially delectable were her pies of which 
she prepared at least a hundred every fall—mincemeat and pumpkin— 


[ 20 ] 






Alpheus Bissell 


\ 














baked and put into the attic to freeze, and then taken out one or two at a 
time as needed. And, oh, the good buckwheat cakes with frizzled beef and 
maple syrup! The cellar was full of apples,—Northern Spys, Greenings, 
and Russets, hickory nuts, butternuts and black walnuts by the bushel. 
There was never but one maid,—"hired girl” as she was called,—wages 
probably around two dollars a week. In return she was supposed to work 
from twelve to sixteen hours a day, to wash and iron, brew and bake, clean 
and help keep the fires burning. As the wood and coal was all in the cellar 
that in itself was quite a task. The bedrooms were usually taken care of by 
the women of the family. The dining room was of medium size, with a 
very long table, and there was always company, and such good food! 
Mother used to say I was like Grandmother, for I was very fussy about my 
food and cleanliness. Grandmother used to "polish the broom handle and 
dust the woodpile” before company came, so Mother said. 

I particularly remember the grand celebration of Grandfather and 
Grandmother Bissell’s fiftieth wedding anniversary on May 13, 1874. The 
entire family gathered from far and near, as well as about a hundred of 
our Grand Rapids friends. It was rather an unusual event since all of 
their four children, and their families, were living and well; and also, in 
New York State, Grandmother’s brother, Calvin, and his wife, were cele¬ 
brating their own fiftieth anniversary on the same date. Such a baking of 
goodies of all kinds, and such excitement! There was reading of poems, 
good wishes of hosts of friends, and many beautiful gifts. The crowning 
event was the presentation of a silver tea and coffee service. 

Five years later came their fifty-fifth anniversary. 1 "In the afternoon 
the elderly ladies, Mrs. Bissell’s friends, gathered at their residence and 
had an old-fashioned visit. In the evening the gentlemen joined them and 
refreshments were served.” Aunt Mary read an original poem in celebra¬ 
tion of the event. 

Then in 1884 came their sixtieth anniversary—their Pearl Wedding— 
and another large and important gathering. I can remember distinctly 
Grandfather seated in a willow arm chair, the gift of Julius Berkey. Grand- 

x Clipping from Grand Rapids newspaper. 

[ 21 ] 



mother also was seated in state, and received the congratulations of their 
hosts of friends. The rooms were full of beautiful flowers, and many floral 
pieces; one of them, the "Ship of Life", was most admired. There were 
many gifts, including a purse of gold, and a beautiful pearl pin. Many 
original poems were read, and the evening ended with the singing of "In 
the Sweet Bye-and-Bye". Notwithstanding their four-score years all their 
children were yet left to them. 

The Sutherland side of the family, as far as we are concerned, is just 
as important as the Bissell side. I wish I could go further back to know 
just what particular inherited traits or characteristics should have made 
Mother the very remarkable person that she was. 

The name Sutherland 1 (or Southerland) is that given to the portion of 
Scotland known in ancient times as Cattey. The Sutherland family prob¬ 
ably descended from the tribe known as Morrayes, which came from Ger¬ 
many before 63 A.D. The first Earl of Sutherland was created by King 
Malcolm Caenmore in 1061 A.D. William Sutherland, Earl of Sutherland, 
succeeded to the title in 1248, and is probably the first to use both the sur¬ 
name and the title. Probably all the Sutherlands are descended from the 
Earl, and the younger branches of the house. Several William Sutherlands 
came to the United States in early days (about 1709, one came to Windsor, 
Connecticut; about 1720, one came to New York; and there is still a third 
who came to New England sometime in the early eighteenth century). 

I remember Grandfather Sutherland so well, as we spent some part of 
every summer there from the time that I can first remember anything. With 
a house swarming with children of their own, Ann and her child were just 
as welcome as the flowers in May. The house, a rambling old structure, 
stood on Main Street, DePere, Wisconsin, next the market. A marvelous 
Balm of Gilead tree stood by the side door. I loved that tree. I could not 
have been more than eight when, one day, grandfather and I stood beside 
it. He pointed to a bird circling over head and said, "Dottie, some time 
men will be flying in the sky just like that bird. You will see it, but I shall 
not be here". I thought of it when, years afterwards, I first saw an aero- 

1 Sutherla?id Papers, Media Research Co., Washington, D. C. 

[ 22 ] 






















plane, just at sunset, circling around the Obelisk on the Place de la Con¬ 
corde. 

It was always great fun to be in the jolly, big Sutherland family of boys 
and girls, even if they were older than I. Kitty led me over the tops of all 
the old buildings and ledges of roofs, while Freddie took me fishing. 
Charlie killed the chickens for dinner. Melville Sutherland (named for 
father) took me down to the old mill and the swimming hole where, at the 
age of fourteen, he lost his life when the old mill collapsed. Uncle Frank 
and all the older sons had left home by that time. All of Mother’s own 
brothers and sisters, except Uncle Jim, who was out in the Black Hills, a 
mining man and known as "the poor man’s friend’’, were dead and gone. 
Aunt Fannie, who married George Wilkinson, died soon after her first 
child was born. Aunt Eliza, who was a perfect beauty, died young. Willie, 
who had been in the Civil War, died of yellow fever, also young. Aunt 
Ellie must have been married when I was still young to Eugene Smith; 
Aunt Callie was working in Chicago. Grandmother was kindness itself 
to me, but was always busy with her household and her many cares. Grand¬ 
father must have been quite tall. When he and our grandmother Eleanor 
were married they were said to have been the handsomest couple ever 
married in Nova Scotia. Funny we were never any of us better looking! 
When I first remember Grandfather he was quite stooped, as in log rolling 
to a waterway his leg had been terribly crushed and broken. 

One summer, when Matie was a very little girl, we went over for our 
annual visit. After a few days she seemed to fall ill and refused to eat, 
and cried all the time for her Grandfather Bissell. Mother called the doctor 
who said, "Mrs. Bissell, take her home. She is just homesick now, but she 
will be really ill if you keep her here’’. 

Later the Sutherland family moved into a pleasant white house where 
Grandfather had a garden in which he loved to work and raise his own 
vegetables. There Grandmother Sutherland died, and his own last voyage 
was approaching a close. 


[ 23 ] 


”1 must go clown to the seas again, in the lonely sea and the sky, 

And all I ask is a tall shin and a star to steer her by; 

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, 

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking. 

* * * * 

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover, 

And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.” 1 

This old sailor Grandfather Sutherland could spin yarns by the yard. I 
remember sitting entranced while he told us of sailing around the world, 
rounding the Horn, just as Villiers describes it in his sea stories; of Australia 
and its wonderful harbors; of New Zealand and its tree ferns; and exciting 
tales of many other countries. He brought back two beautiful watches for 
himself and grandmother—now in the possession of Fred and Charles 
Sutherland, his grandsons. He brought beautiful pineapple silks which 

are still in the old chest, pins and trinkets. 

Best of all did I love the story of the wrecks: three times was he wrecked 
—once his ship was burned to the water’s edge. He and the cook were the 
only ones saved. They were long overdue, and Grandmother very anxious. 
One of her friends said there was a medium who could tell her what had 
happened. She derided the idea, but finally decided to visit her. The wom¬ 
an described the fire, said she saw two men floating on a spar, that they 
had been picked up by a passing ship, and would return in time, so they 
did (exactly as described) eighteen months after they had sailed. When 
you realize that there was no cable or radio, and I don t believe there were 
even any steamers—all sail—the knowledge of this woman seems almost 
miraculous. Like all sailors, Grandfather was superstitious, and believed 
firmly that a bird always followed him and appeared to him (even at sea) 
and warned him of danger or unusual events. It was a little brown bird, 
so grandmother said, for she saw it on several occasions. If it flew high it 
was good news, or good luck; and if it flew around his feet, or fluttered 
near the ground, sickness or death. This omen seldom failed. 

Grandfather Sutherland was never so happy as when in his old clothes 
working in the garden, or sitting on the porch in summer chatting with the 


1 John Masefield, "Sea Fever" 


[ 24 ] 




family or neighbors. He was a great reader and up to the time of his death 
read the Chicago Tribune every day of his life from front page to last, and 
could discuss very entertainingly all the important questions of the hour. 

So many amazing things happened during the pioneer lives of our 
parents and grandparents, no wonder there was plenty to tell me. From 
the days of horseback and pillion riding, sledges and ox-carts, through the 
horse-and-buggy days, came the development of the railroads, steam boats, 
enormous steel battleships and submarines, automobiles, and streamlined 
trains running at incredible speed. And to realize that Dr. Samuel Johnson, 
when told that the stage coach between London and Brighton made twelve 
miles an hour, once said, "Impossible! Man could not breathe at that 
speed!" And now contrast that with dirigibles, aeroplanes, and finally the 
"China Clipper”, spanning oceans and continents! 

From the days of the early post, carried by men on horseback, has been 
developed the special delivery and air mail; telegraph, cable, and telephone, 
(our first telephone at home was installed in 1884), the wireless, the radio, 
with short wave linking all parts of the world instantaneously, and at last 
television. 

From daguerreotypes, through tintypes, has come modern photography, 
and the development of soundless motion pictures, and now spoken drama 
and musical motion pictures, as well as color reproduction. 

From the time when whale oil lamps and tallow or wax candles were 
the only means of lighting, has come the use of kerosene oil, gasoline, gas 
and electricity, and Neon lights. At least fifty years before electricity was 
even thought of as a power to be used for light or heat, Grandfather said 
that before coal or wood was gone we would be using lightning in place 
of them. 

One can only mention a few of the developments in physical and chemi¬ 
cal science: the discovery of the atom, the use of radium, the X-Ray and 
the Cosmic ray. With the development of asepsis and the knowledge of 
the use of anaesthetics in modern medicine and surgery comes the change 
from the old days when the care of the sick and afflicted was the obligation 
of the community, to modern hospitalization, and the scientific treatment 


[ 25 ] 


of tuberculosis, leprosy and smallpox; and the state institutions for the 
care of the blind, and the morally, mentally and physically unfit. 

With the increasing development of science has come the increasing 
burden of the care of human beings and the responsibility for their main¬ 
tenance; the establishment of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and other Founda¬ 
tions, the growth of the Community Chest idea, civic responsibility, and the 
care of orphans. The Red Cross has been organized, not only for relief in 
war time and disaster at home or abroad, but has an educational program 
in its Junior Red Cross, for better international understanding. 

When I was a child I heard much talk of the Civil War, and it never 
occured to me there could ever be another war; here we are to-day, facing 
what looks like the War of Armageddon,—not only countries, but con¬ 
tinents, involved! 

Not only a war between nations is raging, but the war which my father 
always predicted between capital and labor. With the American Federa¬ 
tion of Labor and the Committee for Industrial Organization at logger- 
heads, the situation at the present moment does not seem too bright. 

One day, years ago, when Mother and I were riding in her limousine, 
with rubber tires, across the Place de la Concorde, she spoke to the chauffeur 
through the speaking tube, and then said, "You know, Dorothy, this is 
quite a contrast to the time when I started out in the ox-cart with wooden 
wheels, to teach school, and I never thought there could be anything in the 
world like this. I don’t mind dying, but I am so afraid I am going to miss 
something.” I think this is why none of that generation ever seemed old 
to me, because they had an intellectual curiosity and the desire to see, to 
explore, and to know. For all their hardships, theirs were happier, fuller, 
richer lives than ours, where life is too soft, and living too easy, for some 
of us. 

After Grandmother Sutherland’s death in 1892, Aunt Kitty and Uncle 
Dwight Smith and their daughter Helen went to live with Grandfather, 
who was a very old man by that time and not too easy to manage. Later 
they moved to Grand Rapids, and Uncle Gene and his family lived with 
grandfather until his death in 1908; but neither Uncle Dwight, nor Uncle 

[ 26 ] 



Gene long survived him. I remember one lovely summer, when I was 
about thirteen, the old cherry tree by the side door, which was my favorite 
place in which to read on a long summer afternoon. There were picnics, 
boating parties, and lots of good times. Uncle Gene and Uncle Dite were 
always wonderful to me and did not seem to mind having another child in 
the family for all summer. There was never much money at Grandfather’s 
after he had put his life savings into land—sixty thousands of dollars in 
gold, which had been sewed up in his belt when he sold his ships and started 
overland with his wife and children. Mother was, I think, about four at 
the time. He passed through Chicago and Milwaukee and decided to locate 
in DePere, one of the oldest towns in Wisconsin, and beautifully situated 
on the Fox River, and to invest his entire fortune in land. There he lived 
the rest of his days—-and they were happy days in the old house, and I am 
glad to have been a partaker of its generous hospitality. 


[ 27 ] 






CHAPTER THREE 


EARLY RECOLLECTIONS 



Y first conscious memory dates from 1870 when, aged two and 
a half, I was freshly combed and dressed in a white dress and 
new shoes and placed by Mother on the family sofa. (It now 
stands in my library and is in daily use after one hundred and 
J fifteen years. In my third floor guest room is grandmother's 
bureau, a charming old piece of furniture; and in my dining room is a 
Thomas Dixon pewter teapot. All these were part of Grandmother and 
Grandfather Bissell's wedding furnishings.) Uncle Harvey and Aunt Lucy 
Korilla were expected back that day from the oil fields of Pennsylvania, 
which had recently been opened up and there they had gone to seek a for¬ 
tune (never found). Aunt Lucy wore a dark skirt and pin-striped bodice, 
and a good-sized black hat over which was pinned a large, bright green veil. 
Mother said I was too little to have remembered the event, but years and 
years afterwards I described to her the details of Aunt Lucy's costume, and 
Mother was finally convinced that I did remember the occasion, even to 
the end of the sofa on which I sat, and its position near the door leading 

to the kitchen. 

We first lived in the old Stevens house on Crescent Avenue. Uncle and 
Auntie Stevens were a sweet old couple, and we were glad to be able to 
find such a nice location, for the town was small and houses scarce. 

About two years later we moved to the old stone house on Nort 
Division Street, one block north of St. Mark’s Church. There little Matie 
was born. At seven years of age I remember moving myself and my little 
red sled to the brick house opposite St. Mark’s Church; and there Matie 
died in 1878. Harvey says this house stood on the Post Office site, and was 
the first brick house in town to be moved. On Mother’s thirtieth birthday, 
as she was dressing for a party, Matie stood on one side and I on the other 
side of the bureau. Matie said, "Mother, I think you are the very beautiful- 

est lady in all the land and so she was. 

[ 28 ] 



Mary Bissell Melville and Anna Bissell in 1869 



■T»" 


U< :* 
'»«»? 

jr.«t 

v rJ 

ITl 


r,n :n-' 


■«V»- .>7- 


i*sjM* i Jii? j ii**H******it*t 


















































































In Aunt Mary’s own handwriting I found among Mother’s papers this 
account of a very remarkable dream. I am quoting it exactly as Aunt Mary 
has written: 

"Only a few weeks before little Matie died, Anna dreamed that we, 
as a family, were preparing to have revival meetings in the place, and that 
the evangelist expected was Jesus Christ. Fearing that someone would 
meet him first she started out on the road alone, as he was coming, not 
by car or carriage, but on foot. 

"Two of his disciples were walking back of him. She thought he looked 
as pictures represented him, only his hair and beard were dark, and she 
thought 'I had always supposed he had light hair and beard’. She shook 
hands with him and said, 'Jesus Christ, I want you to come to my house, if 
only long enough for you to bless it, and take one meal with us’. She had 
been alone all of the time until then. She looked down at her side and 
there stood Matie. Jesus took her hand and kissed it and said, 'I will bless 
her’. She awoke, the dream so vivid. She hastened to see if Matie were 
well, but really expected to find her dead. It was just midnight, the same 
hour and moment when she died exactly six weeks later.” Mother’s version 
added this, "I cannot stay, but I will leave my blessing on your house”. 

Matie was taken sick with a severe headache Monday afternoon, No¬ 
vember 11, 1878. On the previous Sunday, when out riding with her papa 
and mamma she said, "Mamma, there is going to be a funeral”. "Mamma, 
where is Maudie buried ? You told me you would show me”. And in pass¬ 
ing the Catholic Cemetery she asked, "What is the difference between a 
cemetery and burying ground?” When passing the Catholic cemetery the 
second time she said, "Mamma, will I be buried there?”, and when told 
that she would not, she asked, "Where will I be buried?” Both Mother 
and Matie seemed to know that the parting was near, and so it proved. It 
was black diphtheria, the only case in town, and mother never left her side 
for nine days, neither to eat nor to sleep. 

Shortly after Mother’s first dream she had another very strange ex¬ 
perience. Just at dusk she went up to their bedroom to light the fire in the 
woodstove. As she entered the room, emerging from the shadowy corner 


[ 29 ] 


arose exactly the same figure she had seen in the previous dream—a well 
defined shape which again faded into the shadow. Mother said she saw 
Christ—who knows? Explain it who can! 

She was in a great hurry to heat the room before Father came up to 
rest, and nothing connected with the previous dream was in her thought; 
for when she had found Matie peacefully sleeping she had been satisfied 
it was just a dream and so had dismissed it from her mind. This convinced 
her it was more than a dream. When Mother appeared downstairs shortly 
afterwards, Aunt Mary said, "Why, Anna, what’s the matter? You look 
as if you had seen a ghost." Mother said, "Perhaps I have", but she never 
mentioned it to a soul until after Matie was gone; but Mother knew. 

Mr. Hildreth, our pastor, many times said to his wife, "Sister Bissell 
will never raise that child. There is an angelic quality about her. She is 
marked for Heaven". So it proved. The letters written to Father and 
Mother all expressed the same feeling, showing that this quality must have 
attracted many. 

Another strange thing happened after Father’s death, when Harvey for 
the first time visited his father’s grave. He insisted upon putting his little 
offering of flowers on Matie’s grave, and Mother said, Why, Harvey, you 
never saw little Matie". He said, "Oh, yes, Mamma, you forget. I saw 
her before I came down". 

The next year I nearly died of the same malady. Father and Mother had 
gone east to buy goods and to see the trade, and had to be sent for. They 
did not expect me to live until they arrived. Aunt Mary comforted me by 
telling me I was too ugly to die, while Mother said I must have been born 
to be hung; for here I still am on earth, fifty-five years later. 

Aunt Mary was one of the early graduates of Oberlin College, and as 
a girl was very lively and full of fun, but she became very deaf and was 
very sensitive about it. She was often away on visits, but when at home 
spent all her time writing in her own room, or with her mother. Matie and 
I played with grandfather and the faithful, all black St. Bernard, Don , 
and our very smart old cat, "Kaiser". They were a wonderful team, but 
fought the most terrible battles when Kaiser had kittens. Poor Don usually 

[ 30 ] 




28 Sheldon Street 








































got the worst of it, for Kaiser would jump at him and claw at his eyes until 
he ran yelping out the door. As children we could never for a single instant 
elude him. He was always on the watch, and never let us out of his sight 
night or day. Such faithfulness, dear old companion of mine! If there is 
a dog heaven I know you are there. Aunt Mary wrote remarkably well, 
and was supposed to have been the historian of the family. I think she did 
write a family history but it was never found. The family Bible also dis¬ 
appeared, and the only records are in a family scrap-book, with biographies 
and a few dates, and what I have been able to glean with Dr. Bertha Dick¬ 
inson’s help, and by means of many letters. Bertha Bissell Lovewell Dick¬ 
inson’s mother 1 was also a Bissell of the Litchfield branch. 

The old brick house was in a pleasant part of town though not fashion¬ 
able, and we had good friends and neighbors, and were near the schools, 
churches, and "the store”. This last was a very important item for Mother 
spent much time there with Father, helping him in a thousand ways, taking 
a little luncheon to him in the middle of the morning, often preparing it 
herself, carrying it to him through sun, rain, or snow, as there were neither 
street cars, horses, nor other conveyances at hand. Sometimes in winter 
she would take down a small basket on my little red sled. Father was 
always very delicate, largely due, I think, to the heavy responsibility he had 
carried from his youth. Fie had literally burned himself out. 

Since Mother was always so occupied with Father I was perhaps more 
with Grandfather whom I adored. He said I should have been called Martha 
because I was like Martha of old—"troubled about many things”. Often, 
after Grandfather had carefully explained something I would say, "Yes, 
Grandfather, but why?” 

It was a comfortable home—oil lamps, no furnace, of course, but wood 
and coal stoves, and, oh joy, a bathroom! It was the first I ever saw. The 
whole town came to see it. Alas, it had its disadvantages, for the plumbing 
sometimes froze. It was located between one of the downstair bedrooms 
and the kitchen, a strategic position since all hot water had to be carried 
from the kitchen stove. During freezing weather I can still remember the 


1 Margaret Lois, daughter of Cyrus Bissell (1793-1857 ). (See Genealogical Table) 

C31] 




wooden tubs, set as near the stove as possible, where Matie and I took our 
Saturday night baths; then into our little white nightdrawers, and a wild 
scamper through a cold hall and up the stairs and into bed, where Mother 
had carefully put heated flatirons, one for each of us. Bottles of hot water 
were too uncertain, and rubber bags were absolutely unknown. The grown¬ 
ups had hot soapstones. 

The front parlor, with green rep covered walnut furniture, was usually 
devoted to Grandmother, or to Aunt Mary and her beaux. Next to it was 
a sitting room where Grandfather sat in his special chair, placed where the 
light was good, as he was a great reader, and also near the big coal stove 
in winter. Grandmother was more active, and moved about more, occupied 
with her household tasks. 

Soon after I was twelve we moved again, this time to 85 Sheldon Street 
—our first real home, and where I had my first taste of freedom; my parents 
also. There the three boys were born, and there Father died on March 
15, 1889. He had just purchased the beautiful old Benjamin place at 80 
College Avenue South, formerly the Foster place, one of the choicest loca¬ 
tions in Grand Rapids, and the only place that Mother had ever really 
wanted. We had been encumbered with land for so many years, Father 
having bought up large tracts in the northeastern part of town, and were 
always "land poor". Mother often used to say, "All I want is a lot in the 
Valley City Cemetery, and the Benjamin place”. There Mother lived in 
the midst of friends, and was the center of social and family life for forty- 
five wonderful and fruitful years. It was a truly beautiful and hospitable 
home, and everyone who entered its doors was conscious of its atmosphere 
of peace and friendliness. 

In 1873, one year after the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad, 
when I was five and Matie (or Lily May) two and a half, we started for 
California for Father’s health. He returned in the spring much benefited. 
When we left Michigan he weighed only one hundred and seventeen 
pounds. Think of Mother, starting out with two children and a sick hus¬ 
band to cross the country—no dining cars, and five days on the train! Miss 
Frank Pierce (of the old Pierce family) and I shared the upper berth, 


[ 32 ] 



I 




























while Father, Mother and Matie occupied the lower. Mother made my dress 
of red cashmere braided with black soutache. I can see it now; it was pretty. 
Over it I wore a little white apron or pinafore. Matie’s dress was white. 

In Sacramento we visited Romeo Lewis and his wife Harriet. (Brooks 
cousins.) There I caught a cold and they gave me a sweat, and, believe 
me, it was one! Oh, the uncomfortable sensations! And the worst of it all 
was that they brought me down to the family sitting room, all wrapped in 
dozens and dozens of blankets out of which I could not struggle, and to 
cap the climax, steaming ears of corn were heaped around me. 

By steamer from San Francisco to Los Angeles, as there was no rail¬ 
road—five days and all seasick but Mother—; thence, from the port, by 
stage to Los Angeles, where we spent six weeks with Auntie and Uncle 
Eldred (as we called them). We had two rooms where Mother cooked 
and took care of us. The room was so small she sat at the table and reached 
for the pancakes on the stove. The hotels were poor and too expensive 
for us. The house must have been near Hill Street, for I remember feeding 
goats on the hillside, and that there were only two or three straggling 
village streets. From Los Angeles we staged to San Bernardino, 65 miles, 
staying on the Barton Ranch for another six weeks. Father, for exercise, 
helped to demolish the old San Bernardino Mission; but Mother’s Water¬ 
loo came when one day she saw the Chinese cook washing his feet in the 
bread pan! We left soon afterward. 

Father made a very interesting collection of fossil fish, shells, tribolites, 
minerals, gold quartz, and so forth, which Mother years afterwards gave 
to the Kent Museum. I used to know the name of every piece in the collec¬ 
tion, and its history; and Father was very proud to have me tell the visitors. 

Eighteen seventy-six was an eventful year in every way. The celebra¬ 
tion of our first hundred years of independence at Philadelphia, with almost 
31,000 exhibitors from all parts of the world, was a real thriller. Ruther¬ 
ford B. Hayes was nominated by the Republicans, and Samuel J. Tilden 
by the Democrats, and political feeling ran as high as this present year. 
There were torchlight processions almost every night. All able-bodied men 
turned out with torches and banners and marched for miles. Matie and I 


[331 


stood entranced at Grandfather’s bedroom window watching the bright 
lights, quite as excited as Sabra is now to see the Neon lights on Wilshire 
Boulevard. When I was about eight years old I started to read the paper 
every night to Grandfather. His eyes were failing, but not his interest in 
affairs or politics, and I was never allowed to miss any of the news. Grand¬ 
father was a grand old politician, and was carried to the polls to vote for 
McKinley at the age of ninety-six, just a few months before his death. He 
had voted for seventy-five years for a Republican president. Could we be 
anything but Republicans ? 

Julius Berkey, 1 a very indulgent father, had presented Lou, who was 
my dearest childhood friend, with a very lively little black and white pony 
by the name of Tom. He was a real circus pony and did all kinds of tricks, 
and, though no longer young, was still full of life. With him came a 
beautiful silver mounted saddle, and two absolutely perfect miniature car¬ 
riages. One, our favorite, was like the old-fashioned buggies of the day, 
painted black, with a high side over which one had to step, and a top which 
folded back. The other was like the so-called English tea-cart, and could 
carry three. Never shall I forget the excitement of my first ride down North 
Division Street. I am sure that Marie Antoinette in her state coach could 
not have created more excitement than we did. If by any chance Tom 
heard a band he would stand on his hind legs and paw the air in true circus 
style. I don’t suppose there was any real danger, for any able-bodied young 
man could run as fast as Tom was able to trot; but I can remember Lou 
sitting on the front of the seat and sawing at the lines as Tom was a hard- 
bitted little rascal; but such fun as we had with him! As he had to be 
exercised, and I was usually the chosen companion, it still stands out in my 
childhood memory as a very thrilling and dangerous experience. 

Mrs. Berkey was a wonderful housekeeper, and we used to play there 
always after school. One year we had ice skates, and she very handsomely 
allowed us to strap them on and skate on her good velvet carpets. We had 
a teeter-totter in the enormous screen porch, and there we learned to ride 
our tricycles, which had just been invented, I believe. I think it was there 

1 Julius Berkey, of Berkey & Gay Furniture Company, Grand Rapids. 

[ 34 ] 



also that I saw my first sewing machine. The only real fly in the ointment 
was that they always had a Bible reading, grace, and family prayers, and 
long minutes spent on our knees. I am afraid I was not a very pious child, 
and we were not accustomed to morning prayers at home. Mr. Berkey, like 
Father, was a pillar in the church, and a very forward looking man. I am 
happy to know that the Berkey and Gay name is still going on in the busi- 
ness world. J. .1 a , < o o 

The winter of 1878 Made and I stayed with Uncle Harvey and Aunt 
Lucy Korilla (the name always fascinated me), in a small house at the 
corner of North College and Crescent Avenues, and how kind they were 
to us! Father and Mother were in Washington fighting for a patent for 
the sweeper, which was to make his and our fortune. They put in a hard 
winter, but Made and I were very happy, and at bedtime loved to dance 
around the big coal stove in our little white nightdrawers while Uncle 
Harvey played the mouth organ, or Jew’s harp. Mother’s pet name for 
Made was "Fontie”, from elephant, because she was not as agile as I was. 
My favorite stunt was to stand on my head, while Made always tumbled 
over. I can see the two of us now . The James Hunt family lived across 
the street. Ada (now Mrs. H. B. Stebbins, of Newton, Massachusetts) and 
I became great chums then, and after sixty years we still correspond regu¬ 
larly. The Julius Berkey’s and James Hunt’s, and later the John Bonnell’s, 
were second homes to me, and my childhood and early girlhood were en¬ 
riched by friendships that originated there. The Crosbys, Bonnells, Barn¬ 
harts, and the Bissells have been close friends for four, or even five, genera¬ 
tions in some cases, quite a record for lasting friendships and the continuity 
of life in a mid-western town. 

Later came our business connection and great friendship with Uncle 
Charlie and Aunt Georgie Judd. Julius Berkey, Charles Leonard, and my 
father were probably as progressive and farsighted manufacturers as Grand 
Rapids will ever know. The Pullman brothers were cabinet makers in 
Julius Berkey’s factory, and later went to Chicago, with what results the 
world knows. The Widdicombs, the Slighs, and so many others I cannot 
even mention, were old, tried and true friends. 


[35] 


CHAPTER FOUR 


BUSINESS AND FAMILY 



this point I must put in some account of the growth of the 
Bissell Sweeper business, though it has all been written many 
times and may seem superfluous. The story will help to keep 
the continuity of the growth and welfare of the family, and 
of the business, which is part of our very life, for the younger 


generations. The present heads of the family are already in middle life, 
and I am "Martha” as well as Anna, and still "troubled about many things”, 
especially the future of our children. How bitterly I regret not writing 
down many things as they were told me, and also that I did not delve more 


into the past; but what a different world, 

"If youth knew, 

If age could! ...” 

The Bissell Carpet Sweeper came into existence in 1876, the same year 
as the telephone. The new and distinguishing feature of the Bissell 
Sweeper, the so-called broom action was the basis for the first really 
successful sweeper. In 1878, manufacture of sweepers was begun, and for 
two years they were all made on the second floor of a building at 27 Canal 
Street. In 1880 the plant was moved to the old Iron Clad Building, at the 
foot of Erie Street, and the business grew very rapidly. Two years later, 
in 1882, a new large brick factory was erected, but this building was 
destined to be short-lived. On the morning of March 12, 1884 (a bitterly 
cold and windy day), fire broke out. The firemen first attempted to use 
the private water works of the Bissell Company, but the hose was too short. 
The fire spread with lightning-like rapidity throughout the building and 
to a sawmill next door; thence to several adjoining factories, and all were 
completely destroyed. The loss to the Bissell Company was about sixty 
thousand dollars, and ninety men were out of employment. That very day, 
however, Melville R. Bissell declared that though his personal loss 
amounted to fifty thousand dollars, nevertheless he had "good health, 


[36] 





China Store 
































Western grit, and Christian fortitude” and he could make good. Father 
bluffed the bankers into lending him a large sum of money to rebuild, while 
Mother went to the merchants offering to return some expensive merchan¬ 
dise just purchased. They said, "No, Mrs. Bissell, just keep it. We know 
you will pay for it when you can”. It did help Father’s standing wonder¬ 
fully. She was a true helpmate, if there ever was one. One year later the 
Bissell Company commemorated the anniversary of the fire with a feast for 
all employees, served in a new, four-story brick building. By the time of 
the second anniversary there were one hundred and sixty-five employees. 
In 1890 a group of Pan-Americans visited the factory, and an outgrowth 
of this visit was the first foreign shipment of sweepers, to Colombia, 
"packed to stand shipment over the mountains on mule back”. Labor re¬ 
lations at Bissell’s have always been happy, with one exception when the 
men struck for an eight-hour day as against ten. There was no violence and 
it was soon over, our first and only strike. Father was always liberal with 
his men, and paid good wages and treated them well. He was one of the 
first employers to establish a co-operative insurance plan for them, over 
fifty years ago. 

When I was in London many years ago Harvey and I consulted 
Dr. Cavendish Moleson professionally. We had been introduced by Lord 
Grimthorpe but wished to identify ourselves in a business way. We gave 
as our reference the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company. He looked at us 
with great interest and said, 

"Did you know that your family had invented a word in the English 
language? Our maids always speak of 'Bisselling’ the room.” 

One of our old trademarks always amused me. It was a large globe 
around the top of which was printed "We sweep the world”. 

In March, 1885, Father and I, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Julius 
Berkey and their two daughters, Rose and Lulu, Mr. Gilbert, the pastor 
of the Methodist Church and his daughter Grace, started for the Cotton 
Centennial in New Orleans, my first exposition. We visited Nashville, 
Tennessee, Birmingham, and Montgomery, Alabama. Father was impressed 
by the progress in evidence since the War, and the way the southern 


C37] 


people had buckled down to their task of rehabilitation; my impression was 
of millions and millions of blacks. New Orleans was delightful, and we 
were fortunate in finding accommodations near the grounds with a charm¬ 
ing family of Lees, kinsmen of General Robert E. Lee. There were two 
boys and a girl, who showed us about and took us to a lovely supper party 
at a Miss Lee’s, also a connection. Senor Pina, of the Mexican Commission, 
showed us much attention and helped to make our visit to the grounds 
most interesting; while Father and Mr. Berkey enjoyed talking to Mr. Lee, 
who was a banker. Of course, we visited the famous old St. Charles Hotel. 
I thought it looked rather dirty and was glad we were not staying there; 
but we loved the old town and its picturesque houses. 

We took the train to Florida over the roughest railroad I ever hope to 
travel on. A lovely trip down the winding St. John’s River was a real 
novelty, with the alligators waiting along the banks. St. Augustine com¬ 
pletely fascinated us. It is one of the oldest towns in America, with houses 
of Spanish type. Some of them were built of coquina, or fossil shells, the 
first houses of the type we are now building fifty years later. Fort Sumter 
gave us a great thrill, as well as the beautiful gardens of Charlestown, 
South Carolina. 

We stayed in lower New York at the old Metropolitan Hotel, substan¬ 
tial but not gay. Boston was a maze, and still is, but it was a great experience 
for a seventeen-year-old girl, and I shall always be glad Father and I had 
so interesting and pleasant a trip together. He managed to pile wonder¬ 
ful things into his all too short life. 

One summer when I was about thirteen we camped at Indian Point, 
Burt Lake, Michigan, a beautiful site and magnificent fishing—brook trout, 
perch, grayling, black bass, pike and an occasional muskalonge. We had 
a cook and camp helpers, fine large tents, and boats,—quite a good sized 
camp. It was one of the pleasantest experiences of my childhood; but, alas, 
Father in his zeal chopped down trees and cleared brush to give us a fine 
view, and developed a dreadful case of ivy poisoning. Camp was hastily 
broken and we rushed back to Grand Rapids where Father spent weeks 
in bed, in real torture. It was the only time I ever saw Father cross or im- 


[38] 





103 Chambers Street, New York 




i 





















































patient. He would not have a nurse, and Mother and I would stand by 
his bed with dressings which we had no more than gotten on than he would 
tear off. Poor Mother was worn out when he was finally out again. 

He had a perfect passion for horses, and we always had at least one: 
first old Billy, a big bay, and a high, old-fashioned buggy, with a little seat 
built in for me, from which exalted position I learned to drive. Billy had 
to be kept in a livery stable and was scarcely ever used except on Sunday 
afternoons when, by an early start, we could get as far as the plaster beds 
down on the River Road, or in the summer occasionally as far as Reed’s 
Lake, two or three miles. 

In winter one of the almost daily events was the racing on Jefferson 
Avenue. Usually directly after luncheon, sometimes in dazzling sunshine, 
under a blue sky, Father and I would start out in his racing sleigh, in fur 
coats and buffalo robes, with sealskin caps brought well down over our ears. 
One of his horses named Hero, with a record of 2:0814 was our special pet. 
Many is the good race we enjoyed together as Mother didn’t particularly 
care for that sport. The whole town usually turned out, and it was exciting. 

The following comes from an account 1 of Father’s life published at 
the time of his death: 

"About a year ago Mr. Bissell became interested in fine horses. He 
purchased a farm of 110 acres on the banks of Reed Lake and put it in the 
finest possible condition. The stable erected thereon was the peer of any 
in the country. It was finished in oak, oiled and varnished, and is almost 
fit for hotel guests. The horses it contains are over thirty in number and 
are worth thirty thousand dollars, not including the recent purchase of the 
stallion 'Anteo’, which is still in Lexington. A part of the farm consists 
of a grove forty acres in extent. Every stump in it has been removed, every 
tree trimmed, and the ground made smooth as a lawn. The horses are free 
to roam in the grove in pleasant weather, but for exercise they are turned 
into enclosures adjoining the stalls. A fine one-half mile race track has 
been constructed, and taken altogether, the stock farm is rated among the 
best in the country.” 

Newspaper clipping—see scrap book. 


C391 











The stock farm house was pleasant, and shortly after our marriage in 
1890 we moved our old furniture out there and spent two delightful 
summers. The farm was afterwards sold, first to Frank Noble, and then 

to John Bonnell, who sub-divided it. 

On Good Friday, April 7, 1882, at seven-twenty P. M., M. R. Bissell 
introduced to the world a "new carpet sweeper, not patented, weighing 
nine pounds, at present in charge of his wife, named Melville Reuben 
Bissell, Jr.”—his first calling card. Dear Junior, how welcome you were, 
and what a joy to us after Matie left us! You were a joy then and have 
been a comfort ever since. How could we do without you? Almost the 
last time Mother spoke of you, just before I started on my trip around the 
world, she said, “You know, I feel better when June is in town”. You 
were always the one to oil the doors, wind the clock, and put out the cat, 
in other words, my own dear, reliable brother. How many trains in Europe 
we should have missed but for you, when you were eleven, Harvey nine 
and Irving seven. 

October 22, 1885, our little Harvey was born, and how proud Father 
was! That was a very happy time for all of us except that Harvey was 
delicate and we were always worried about him. He had eczema terribly, 
then hay fever, and afterwards asthma; but the tough old strain showed, 
and he has lived to be the father of six children, three living. Harvey was 
such a terrible sufferer it took the entire family, including the coachman, 
George Lamphere, who was a perfect brick, to take care of him. Harvey 
really preferred him to anyone for after the family was completely worn 
out, about eleven o’clock at night, George would tap on the living room 
window and say, “Mrs. Bissell, couldn’t I take the baby a while?” Then 
peace would reign for a short time while Harvey was lulled off to sleep 
on his shoulder. I never thought of going anywhere after school—it was 
always rush home and help Mother with the baby; but I am glad I could 
and did do it. Of course, doctors then had no idea how to treat eczema, and 
for about four years the poor little lad was given all the wrong things. 

Today I have been re-reading all my letters to Father and Mother, 
written in 1886 from Miss Bliss’s School in Rochester, New York. Fifty 


[ 40 ] 




My Room at School 























years ago, and yet it does not seem so long; but what a different world! 
Mother numbered the letters and kept them all these years. As they are 
almost the only letters she did keep, she must have valued them, though 
they are not of any importance except to show how different was the life 
and point of view, and are some slight indication of the way in which girls 
at that time thought and felt. They had the same pre-occupations as now 
about trips, vacations, spending money, clothes, accomplishments, the 
girls, and their reactions to each other. There is a very complaining letter 
about the food, giving the menu, which did sound very thin; worries about 
Father and his headaches, and because he would work so hard, a strike in 
the factory, also about Junior and Harvey, who had so many illnesses. In 
one letter I felt that I ought to go home, as Mother was so busy with 
Father, and take care of the children and straighten out the household. I 
also told Mother very frankly I did not think the children were getting 
enough fresh air and exercise, and I still think so. 

The next year the principal of my school, Miss Bliss, moved to Yonkers- 
on- the-Hudson, and from that school I was graduated in 1888. I was more 
concerned about Mother’s dress for that occasion than about my own, and 
strongly recommended white mull "but not too fussy”. My teachers were 
all fine women, and I dearly loved Jean Lemon, who gave me the name of 
Dorothy. She did not like Dottie and said she thought Dorothy was my 
real name. Miss Bliss was a lady, if there ever was one, the daughter of a 
clergyman, so, of course, there were prayers and much religious instruction. 
A very fine Presbyterian minister, of the Rochester church, Reverend John 
Reed, had our class in moral philosophy, and we all ended by joining the 
church as " a step in the right direction”. During my absence Father de¬ 
cided to do over the guest room for me, and I was touched to tears. He also 
gave me a beautiful riding horse as a graduation present, and for my 
eighteenth birthday a diamond ring and a sealskin coat. I don’t think any 
children ever had a kinder or more indulgent father than ours. 

The first winter out of school was very gay and pleasant, with lots of 
dances and cotillions. I remember George Pantlind (Boyd Pantlind’s 
cousin) who took me to my first cotillion at the Morton House. He sent 


C41] 


me beautiful flowers and took me in a hack. That was the last word in ele¬ 
gance! 1 remember my dozens of favors, and that it was a marvelous party. 

Then, on the 12th of January, 1888, came the third boy, Irving Joy, 
named for "Auntie Joy", and because Grandmother admired Washington 
Irving. We had our ups and downs with him, but he was usually a well- 
behaved child and gave little trouble except for occasional illnesses. 

Aunt Callie Sutherland was living with us at that time and was a great 
help in the household and to Mother, so I was left much freer to pursue 
my own amusements. There was a very nice group of young people: Ada 
Hunt and Helen Putnam (both very musical), Lucy Uhl, whose father 
was ambassador to Germany, and Elizabeth Thompson, who married 
Wallace Campbell, a distinguished astronomer and for many years presi¬ 
dent of the University of California; James Crosby, Lucius Torrey, and 
Fred and Will Wurzburg. We played card games and had a little club 
which met every week and had jolly times. In the summer there were 
picnics and archery, in the winter skating and sleighriding, with dancing 
school, and other dances which were well attended; but twelve o’clock was 
considered late enough for any respectable young lady to be safely at home, 
and if I were not there by that time Father was waiting in the front hall 
with a stopwatch in his hand. 

Last night, in re-reading about twenty of Father’s hand-written letters 
to me when I was a girl in boarding school in New York, I was impressed 
anew by his breadth of vision, his sympathy and understanding of my 
problems, as well as his own. 

I feel that I am giving a very incomplete picture of Father, for his 
personality was a strong one. I remember I never disobeyed him, and yet 
he was kindness itself. I used to say, "Made, you walk beside your mother 
and I will walk beside my father". I always felt very close to him, and, 
as I grew older, when men came to the house for interviews, he would 
often ask me what I thought about them. We usually agreed, for we 
seemed to understand each other. He was always lending money, or giving 
it away, especially to boys trying to get an education, for he felt he had 
been very much handicapped by having to leave school so early. Upon my 


[ 42 ] 


graduation he presented me with Biger E, a horse Uncle Harvey had raised 
and trained—-a great, powerful, chestnut gelding, strong mouthed, and 
who ran away with me regularly almost every time I mounted him. I really 
preferred riding some of the smaller horses who were jumpers, as Father 
put hurdles on the track for me to practice. Later he gave me Cobb and 
Barney, strawberry roans, with a lovely victoria which I could drive myself, 
or with a driver by attaching a seat. Father’s generosity in large and small 
ways was boundless. He also liked all sports. He was a member of the 
Pottowottomie Gun Club. He loved fishing, sailing and travelling, but 
especially did he love his horses. 

Father loved people and adored his family. He was keen over his busi¬ 
ness ; he did his duty by his church and its people and assumed many of its 
financial burdens. For weeks after his death, it seemed to me, there were 
people pouring in daily to tell us of some kind deed of Father’s: how their 
home had been saved by a judicious loan, or a life with hospital care,— 
not even Mother knew the extent of his benefactions. In his will he left 
an endowment for a room in the hospital, the proviso being that the doctor 
must also donate his services. Mother always kept some patient there, and 
many a grateful person now lives for the care given. So many outside inter¬ 
ests together with so many worries, vexations and ill health would have 
downed most men. Browning seems to express Father’s point of view better 
than I can: 

"But what if 1 fail of my purpose here? 

It is hut to keep the nerves at strain, 

To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall, 

And baffled, get up and begin again ,— 

So the chace takes up one’s life, that’s all.” 1 

On the night of the fifth of March, 1889, Father was first stricken with 
his fatal illness, pneumonia. We were not really alarmed until the last few 
days, but nothing could save him for he had gone beyond his strength for 
years. That winter of 1889 I met, for the first time, Will McCay. Though 
I had had my share of beaux I had not been particularly interested in them. 
Will was with me at this time, and was so kind and helpful that Mother 


1 Robert Browning, "Life in a Love”. 


[ 43 ] 









too was greatly drawn to him. The death of my father was the crowning 
tragedy of Mother’s life, and for me life has never been the same. I think 
no man ever had finer friends or more devoted helpers. The whole town 
went into mourning. Hundreds of Father’s men walked in his funeral pro¬ 
cession by their own desire, though we offered to provide carriages; for 

loyalty I have never seen anything like it. 

Father was a man of many sides, and yet direct and simple. He was 
cautious, and yet a gambler. One of his friends said, If M. R. lives he will 
either be a millionaire, or busted”. A native shrewdness, hard work, am¬ 
bition, and a knowledge of men carried him far. He was a wonderful son, 
husband, father and friend, and no service was too small or too big for 
him to perform for those whom he loved. He was clever at tricks and 
sleight-of-hand, like Harvey, and he dearly loved a joke, especially on me 
because I didn’t like jokes very well. I remember the wild kittens we used 
to have in our cellar, and how I was always trying to catch them, Father 
often standing by, saying, "Now Dottie, you just put a little salt on their 
tails and you can catch them”. The miles I walked, up and down, over 
barrels and obstacles! He lived his religion, but he was not pious. He took 
a very active part in the church work, and was trustee for many years of 
the Methodist church, and superintendent of the Sunday School for a year 
or so. To this he gave time that I think he could ill afford, as some of his 
notes which I found last year would indicate. I don’t know how many times 
he set Uncle Harvey up in business,—a china store, a farm, then sent him 
out to sell sweepers on the road; nothing ever succeeded. Talk about work! 
I have seen Father come home grey with fatigue, to absolutely shed tears 
from headache and exhaustion. That is the way fortunes are made; but 

human beings like Father perish young. 

Father’s will handsomely provided for all his family, though I don’t 
believe it ever occurred to him, since he was the youngest, that he would 

be the first to go. 

No two people were ever more perfectly mated, or happier together 
than Father and Mother; but there were many dark and trying days for 
them. Aunt Mary was always hearing of a new doctor to try for her deaf- 

[44] 


ness; there were long and expensive illnesses; Grandfather and Grand¬ 
mother were getting quite old and crotchety, as most old people do; Matie 
and I needed lots of care; patent suits were always pending, and a market 
had to be created for the sweeper; long and tiresome trips had to be under¬ 
taken, Father and Mother together visiting all the important merchants in 
towns in New England and New York, as well as in the Middle West. We 
all had to live and money was not very plentiful. Sometimes when they 
moved to a new house they papered the rooms themselves and cleaned the 
woodwork. They did this just before I was born. Mother made all my 
clothes by hand, all of Grandmother’s, part of Aunt Mary’s, and her own. 
Grandfather refused to wear any shirts unless Mother made them, as did 
Father. That same winter, as Father’s overcoat was faded, she ripped it, 
turned it, and re-made it. 

Mother naturally had perfect health. I never remember seeing her ill 
in bed except when the children were born, once with an abcessed breast, 
and once with ’flu. Otherwise she could not have endured such days of 
hard work. It was not until I was twelve and we were in our own home 
at 85 Sheldon Street that we knew any real freedom. Thank Heaven it 
came at last! 

After Father’s death it was very hard for Mother to carry on. At the 
time when I knew her heart was breaking, she would start up suddenly, 
put on her widow’s bonnet and shawl, and when I said, "Mother, where 
are you going?” she replied, "I am going to find someone more unhappy 
than I am”. That was her remedy and her salvation, and her reward was 
rich, for no one had more friends or well-wishers. Of the beautiful rela¬ 
tions between Father and Mother, Aunt Mary writes: 

"Melville and Anna always presented a picture in my mind of ideal 
lovers; their devotion, their unselfish thoughtfulness of one another’s feel¬ 
ings and interests, their tender expression of the almost 'Divine love’ given 
to two tender hearts, makes me believe in the beautiful reality of the joys 
of wedded bliss, that the practical life has great possibilities of presenting 
a heavenly side to it, to those who are willing to think of others more than 
themselves—truly such lives are a part of the loving, compassionate 


[ 45 ] 


Omnipotent Father, who loveth with a love beyond understanding. ...” 

I have not dwelt perhaps as much as I should upon Mother’s character 
and ability as a business woman and executive, because that phase has been 
quite fully developed in "A Tribute”. So many newspapers and writers 
begged Mother to let them write her life story, but she always refused as 
she did not like publicity; but finally she allowed us to publish a brief 
account, written by Katharine Tilt McCay in the "Encyclopedia of Ameri¬ 
can Biography”, new series, published in 1935 in New York. It was after¬ 
wards hand bound and lettered, an exquisite piece of workmanship, by Mrs. 
George Bruce Douglas, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, her "tribute” to Mother. 
In spite of her dislike of publicity, however, many articles were published 
in Toledo, Boston, Duluth and Canadian papers, and I feel that this account 
would be incomplete without mentioning them. 

Mother was a beautiful woman, with raven black hair which later 
turned white, with snappy dark eyes, and a resolute chin—quiet, determined 
and affable. She was known throughout the city and elsewhere for her 
good deeds as well as her business ability. Active in the Methodist Episco¬ 
pal Church, and serving on many charity boards, her chief interest lay in 
Bissell House, which she had built in order to give recreation and training 
to the underprivileged youth of Grand Rapids. It was equipped with a 
library, gymnasium, and rooms for instruction in sewing, cooking and 
manual training. Property owners said it had changed for the better the 

whole character of that part of town. 

She was always interested in her husband’s activities and studied his 
business as many women study French. She took no small part in the early 
development of the business, travelled extensively in the company’s inter¬ 
est, and secured the first order John Wanamaker of Philadelphia ever gave 
for carpet sweepers. After the disastrous fire in 1884 she was one of the 
first on the ground, and afterwards personally negotiated many of the 
necessary loans to rebuild the factory. There was no detail of the business 
with which she was not familiar, and after Father’s death she took entire 
charge, and was the active manager as well as the president and executive 

[46] 


head, probably the only woman in the world at the time occupying such a 
position in so large and important an organization. 

Dr. Homer C. Brigham was our physician as well as our warm personal 
friend. His passion for horses equalled Father’s, and his knowledge was 
even greater. Without his wise guidance and help it would have been 
almost impossible for us to have disposed of all our stock to such good 
advantage. He went with Mother and me to the auctions in Chicago, 
Toledo and Cleveland, where Anteo was sold for $58,000.00, the highest 
price, I believe, at that time ever paid for a stallion; but Mother had an 
intuition that something was wrong about the sale, and discovered that the 
half owner had gotten a rake-off of about $10,000.00 She demanded her 
share and got it. The stock sold well and we came off about even. 

Neither were her social duties neglected. She was a devoted wife and 
mother and society leader. Feminine in tastes and domestic in habits, she 
always found time for her home, her books, her friends and her philan¬ 
thropies. To many of her friends she was known as "St. Ann”. 

She had a keen sense of humor, and was endowed with common sense, 
a natural shrewdness, caution and sagacity, which was properly balanced 
by energy and courage. Trusting her own judgment even in the face of 
discouragement, she had great self-reliance, believed in enterprise, and 
had faith in her own resources; and so ends on this high note a beautiful 
life such as is given to few women to enjoy; or to pass on to her descendants 
a legacy so rich in example, in memories so happy, or in inspiration so great. 


[ 47 ] 


CHAPTER 


FIVE 


MARRIAGE • TRAVELS 

^/he winter of 1889-1890 we spent in Colorado Springs for Aunt 
—' 10 Callie’s health, as she was in the last stages of tuberculosis. Her 
/lit d e ath was a dreadful grief to me as she had been with us so much 
in later years. She did not live to reach home, but died in Chicago 
jLls only a few weeks before my marriage to William Stewart McCay, 
which took place April 23, 1890— St. George’s Day. He is my favorite 
saint for he is always tilting at the Dragon. 

Will McCay had a very interesting and colorful background. His sister, 
Sarah McCay, had married Lindley Murray, of the old New York family 
of Murrays. They were cousins of the Talmans, and the Audubons, and 
he had spent much time as a child visiting in Audubon Park. At a very 
early age he was sent to school at The Gunnery, in Washington, Litchfield 
County, Connecticut. Probably one of the most interesting men in the 
educational world at that time was Frederick W. Gunn, the founder of 
the school. He would still be regarded as a modern educator; his methods 
were new and original, and many of his ideas are in use today. Dr. Richard 
Burton and Hamilton Gibson were pupils there at the time, and Hamilton 
Gibson’s son has been headmaster for almost twenty years. Will McCay’s 
room mate was Teddy Holland, son of J. G. Holland, who was then at 
the height of his fame. 

The Lindley Murrays lived at 6 Clark Street, Brooklyn, on the Heights, 
and just opposite the Henry C. Bowen place, which occupied a city square. 
Mr. Bowen was the founder of the Brooklyn Independent, and was one of 
the great publishers of his time. He was a perfect old tyrant, if there ever 
was one, and I think he needed to be with his large family of daughters 
and sons. He ruled over the whole group, including Will McCay, the sons 
of Henry Ward Beecher, who were neighbors and great friends, Irving 
Bush, and other lively boys. It was probably one of the first manifestations 
of gangs in America. The Heights boys had a gang of their own and used 


[ 48 ] 






Our House on College Avenue 



Drawing Room of College Avenue House 








































to have really desperate fights with the water front gang, using stones or 
other missiles. When things went too far Mr. Bowen would administer 
justice with no uncertain hand on the whole crowd. Once Will McCay, 
with another boy of his own age, ran off to sea as stowaways, but they 
were returned much chastened after a few days. Henry Ward Beecher and 
Mother Gilbert were very good friends, and that friendship has endured, 
in their descendants, through three generations. 

Soon after their arrival in Grand Rapids Will McCay entered Ann 
Arbor along with Will and Ned Gilbert (stepbrothers) and a very fine 
group of men from Detroit—John, George and Walter Russell, James 
Shaw, William Moore, and William Gray—all of whom have occupied 
important and useful places in the annals of Detroit. After graduation, 
though he had specialized in chemistry, after some experimental work in 
various lines, he entered the gas company, founded by the Gilbert brothers, 
and became superintendent of street construction, a position which he 
occupied for a number of years. His mind was a fertile and ingenious one, 
and no one was a more skillful or adroit leader in the social world. At 
one time he became interested in an iron foundry, and afterwards in one 
of the earliest types of marine gasoline engines. After our removal to 
Pasadena he was connected with the Edison Company of Southern Cali¬ 
fornia for several years, and built some of their gas plants. During the 
War he became major in the Red Cross and had charge of the work in 
London, but never took any active part in business afterward, although he 
continued experimental work with clay products until the time of his 
sudden death in March of 1935. 

Ours was a beautiful wedding, on a lovely sunshiny April day, with 
just the family and close friends present. We were married in the long 
drawing room in the new house which Father had provided with such 
loving care. It had been difficult for Mother to make up her mind to leave 
the old home, but we felt it was Father’s wish, as business was crowding 
in so fast near us, and the children needed freedom and space. 

Neither of us had been abroad, so we decided upon a wedding journey 
to Europe, which was quite an event in those days. Mother, with her usual 


[491 


unselfishness, urged our going, and said, "I have to learn to live alone, and 
I might just as well begin now as any time”. Doesn’t that sound just like 
her? I can still see the old ship, the "Alaska” of the Anchor Line, sea¬ 
worthy, but like a cattle ship in comparison with the streamliner and 
modern ships. There was absolutely no place to sit except in the tiny 
smoking room, where women were not welcome, the dining room, and a 
small companionway. I had taken cold, almost pneumonia, was seasick, 
and utterly miserable. One day I burst into tears and threw my arms around 
the kind old Irish stewardess’ neck and said, "Oh, dear, if I could only 
see Mama!” 

In London we met our agent, James (Jimmie) Pollitt, who was with 
our company for many years. He was exceedingly well informed, and I 
believe knew every street in London, having tramped over most of them 
trying to introduce carpet sweepers. He made our stay there most interest¬ 
ing, and I can never forget his kindness. We took a flying trip through 
Paris, France, Germany, and, fortunately, saw the Passion Play at Oberam- 
mergau at its very best, one of the great performances of its history. 

Well, that was the beginning of many years of travel—something like 
forty crossings of the Atlantic, not including cruises to various countries. 
Mother Gilbert, who was also a widow, wanted us to stay with her for a 
short time while we were furnishing our own little home at 32 Madison 
Avenue. The next year we moved back again with Mother Gilbert, as I 
was not very well. She made a great pet of me and was kindness itself. 
She and Mother became very dear friends and saw much of each other. 
They played cards together a great deal, and entertained small groups of 
their friends very frequently. 

Sabra Stewart Ellsworth McCay Gilbert was the full name of William 
McCay’s mother, and little Sabra has the name of her paternal great-grand¬ 
mother, and great-great grandmother. The Lady Sabra is the only woman 
mentioned in history in connection with St. George and the Dragon. I 
adored my Mother Gilbert, and I am sure she regarded me as her very own 
child. She always called me her daughter and said that there were no in¬ 
laws in our family, they were all own children. When one of her friends 


[ 50 ] 



Anna Bissell, Melville Bissell, William McCay, Harvey Bissell, 
Anna Bissell McCay and Irving Bissell 








said, "You spoil your children, Sabra”, she said, "I like them spoiled”. 
She was orphaned at an early age, but grew up in the family of her uncle, 
old Judge Ellsworth, father of Stewart Ellsworth. Her grandmother, Sabra 
Stewart, was a rigid disciplinarian; Sabra was never allowed to lean back 
in a chair, but wore a steel support, or stay—she was literally strait-laced. 
Her books were Shakespeare, the Bible, Milton and Pilgrim’s Progress. 
She was gay and witty, French in temperament, philosophical, always 
gracious—truly a grande dame. She adored her son, and of William, her 
grandson, would have made a perfect idol. At an extreme age, when 
obliged to submit to a painful operation on her throat without an anaes¬ 
thetic, the only concession she would make was to allow the nurse to re¬ 
move the velvet bow which she always wore in her beautifully arranged 
hair. 

The next year after our marriage, my Mother went abroad with the 
Judds for a few months. The following year (1892) Miss Elizabeth Benson 
came to Mother, acting as governess for the boys. She was a great help 
and a blessing to us all, as she was capable and efficient, and took more 
and more responsibility of the house from Mother’s shoulders, and helped 
her in every way. Mother became very much interested in the Ladies’ 
Literary Society and was at one time its president; but more than anything 
else she loved her work in the Children’s Home, afterwards the Blodgett 
Home. Her special work was finding good homes for the children whom 
she never believed in institutionalizing. She did a wonderful piece of work. 
Good homes were found for more than four hundred children. A palmist 
once said when looking at Mother’s hand, "Why, I see hundreds of 
children!” The work involved an enormous amount of correspondence, 
most of which Miss Benson did; but it also took time and work, sometimes 
journeys out of town for further investigation. Many and many a boy and 
girl has come back to thank Mother for what she did in finding a good 
home for them; some of them never even knew they were adopted. Some 
of the parents changed their minds and wanted the children back after 
signing adoption papers, but Mother was firm and said "No”. She said 
some mothers would leave their children with no more feeling than a cat 


C51] 


would at leaving her kittens on a doorstep; while other adoptive mothers, 
if they did have to give up the child taken on trial, were prostrated with 
grief. There were hundreds of the most touching incidents. Sometimes 
people were difficult and threatened to sue her. Most important of all, she 
would follow up the cases, sometimes for years. One couple wanted a 
child (usually a girl) with "blew eyes and lite hair". Mother said she 
always had to take her children as the Lord sent them, and she guessed 
they would too. One couple wanted a child who would be religious and 
have a fine voice. Mother wrote them saying, "When some minister and 
a soprano in the church choir have a child" she would notify them. Some 
of the letters were really priceless and should have been kept. 

Uncle Charlie Judd came to the house every Sunday, or oftener, usually 
with Aunt Georgie, and sometimes Norah; and how the boys loved Uncle 
Charlie’s visit! He would play and entertain them by the hour, and he 
was the only man with whom they really had any association. There is 
one special song of his about the red herring which I think I will never 
forget. 

"One day I went to the red herring pond. 

I caught a red herring just fifty feet long — 

Fifty feet long and forty feet square — 

If that’s a lie I never was there. 

Sing alico, calico, longitude, lay; 

Set your dog on a colosapher kay — 

Colosapher kay, and every thing — 

That’s what I did with the red herring. 

"What did I do with the red herrings eyes? 

1 made them up into cakes and pies! 

Cakes and pies and everything — 

That’s what I did with the red herring. 

Sing alico, calico, etc.” 

Shortly before that he had been made manager of the company, and he 
certainly put some of the best years of his life into the sweeper business. 
Maurice and Robert Shanahan were in positions of trust, and our ever 
faithful, ever loyal Fred Deane, and our dear T. W. Williams, in New 
York; now, alas, all gone, and I realize that I am the only one left who 
remembers those early days. Father and Mother had the faculty of inspir- 


[ 52 ] 


ing loyalty and devotion in the men who were their chosen helpers, and 
no company has ever had a finer group associated with it in all departments; 
and here and now, I want from the bottom of my heart to thank all of 
them, past and present, for to them was due the success of our enterprise, 
and now the carrying on of the good work. No chain is stronger than its 
weakest link. 

In 1893, after a very long illness, I lost my first baby, and again went 
abroad the next year for a number of months; Tangiers, Spain, Italy, 
France and England. In the summer Mother, Miss Benson and the boys 
(seven, nine and eleven years old) joined us, first in Kew Gardens where 
we had a little house, and later we took an old-fashioned placed called the 
"Down House” near Bristol, in Gloucestershire. It was a sweet old place, 
with a wonderful vegetable garden, flowers, a lily pool. Four servants 
stayed on with us; they were like characters out of Dicken’s novels, es¬ 
pecially the cook, Lewanna. Mother said Dickens died too soon, he should 
have immortalized her. 

The family stayed over, spending part of the winter in Baden, Switzer¬ 
land, so that Harvey could have the baths; and then went on to Nice 
and the Riviera. Soon after that Junior went to the famous old Gunnery— 
I wish we had known then that all the old Bissell family came from that 
part of the country. A year afterwards Harvey went there, and I spent 
about six weeks at a most charming old New England boarding house; 
but the place did not agree with him and I think that is the time we went 
down to Atlantic City together, as he was having asthma again. From the 
Gunnery, Junior went to Dr. Eckhart, in Tuxedo Park, and finally to 
Rensselaer Polytechnic, in Troy, New York. 

In 1896, in London, for the first time we were invited to the home 
of Mr. and Mrs. John Morgan Richards. His father had been the family 
clergyman, and had married Will’s father and mother. They were most 
cordial and invited us to dinner at their charming home in Lancaster Gate. 
We arrived promptly at seven-thirty, but one should be at least fifteen 
minutes late, for no one is expected quite on time. Finally we were all 
seated at the long dinner table; when about half way through Pearl Craigie, 


[ 53 ] 


their daughter, known to the world as John Oliver Hobbs, appeared. She 
was at the time probably the most popular and feted author in England, 
and a very charming but unhappy woman. Her novels were the talk of 
London, and one of her plays was then running in a London theatre. She 
had many lovers, among them Lord Curzon; but she never married again 
and died very tragically a few years afterwards. She was a very close friend 
of Princess Mary and Prince George 1 and their photographs signed 
"Affectionately yours, Mary" and "Cordially yours, George" were hung 
on the walls of the drawing room. The Richards were the only Americans 
to attend the wedding which occurred not long after. Mrs. Richards was 
really a character; she always wore a long trained gown, and one lock of 
hair was constantly falling over her forehead, which she was constantly 
blowing back. She was enormously fat, like Madame Blavatsky, and was 
very psychic. She took a great fancy to me and humored me in every way. 
John Morgan Richards was very handsome, occupying quite a place in 
London society, and was the leading supporter of Joseph Parker, who was 
then preaching in the London Temple to a great following. His wife 
always called him Dear Archangel", and he did look rather like one. 

William was born February 16, 1900, on his father’s birthday—a happy, 
healthy, lusty child. The first time Jessie Pantlind saw him she said, "Well, 
Dorothy, I suppose you think he is quite a fine baby—and so he is; but 
there will be times when you wouldn’t give fifteen cents for him . In 

troubled moments I have agreed with her. 

Soon after his birth we moved to an apartment on 82nd Street, near 
Riverside Drive, in New York City; but our first summer we spent at 
Monmouth Beach, near Long Branch where we had a delightful house 
belonging to Arthur Byron, the nephew of Ada Rehan and son of Oliver 
Dowd Byron. The three Crehan sisters’ names were Hattie, Kate and Ada. 
They were born in Ireland and educated in a convent there. The name was 
really Crehan, but when the first programmes of Ada Rehan’s debut were 
printed it was written in error "Ada C. Rehan not Crehan . They all 
entertained charmingly and there we met all sorts of interesting people, 


x King George V and Queen Mary. 


[ 54 ] 



among them Ethel Barrymore, who was just eighteen and had never been 
on the stage at that time. Lindley and Sarah Murray, Will McCay’s sister 
and brother-in-law, had a little cottage at Point Pleasant, New Jersey, be¬ 
longing to Richard Harding Davis, and we visited back and forth often. 
I met the Fargos and the Symingtons, and many other interesting and 
well-known people; and there we had our first bridge parties. One of 
them had been in Europe that year and had brought back the new game. 

Our first winter in New York was something of a trial as it seemed so 
strange to live in a little apartment and especially with a baby and all the 
equipment. Mother came down to visit us once. Will had taken a room 
outside, as Mother did not like the idea of going alone to a hotel; and so 
she slept in one of the twin beds. I noticed her turning round and round, 
as a dog does before lying down, and I said, "Mother, what are you look¬ 
ing for?” and she replied, "I am looking for a place to take off my clothes!” 
When I explained that we had to keep the potatoes under the laundry tub, 
and a few other things, she thought I was suffering real hardship. It was 
really a very charming little apartment. William’s nurse had gotten into 
a case of scarlet fever and could not come for two or three months, and 
I can still remember trying to carry William, enveloped in many coats and 
leggings, and weighing just one quarter of what I did—twenty-five pounds 
against my one hundred—and wheeling him up and down Riverside Drive 
through blizzards that almost swept me off my feet. 

William’s childhood, already receding into the dim past, was enlivened 
by some amusing sayings, which I record for the entertainment of the 
future McCays. 

At the age of two, one day at luncheon, he was served with chops while 
sweetbreads were the grown-ups’ menu. At once a small voice piped up, 
"Baby want sweetbreads, choppie not good for baby, choppie make baby 
sick”. Such a plea could not be resisted, and, of course, he got the sweet¬ 
breads. 

At three, when walking along the wide veranda railing, I said,"Look out, 
lambie, don’t fall”. "And would I hurt my darling headie?” was the reply. 

Soon afterward he and I one day were walking down the rather rough, 


C55] 


Steep slope of what is now the John B. Miller place in Pasadena, when I 
caught my foot in a piece of wire and came down with an awful whack 
on my knee. He looked at me and said, "Oh, Mother, wasn’t it lucky it 
wasn’t me?" In spite of the pain I had to laugh. 

All dressed one day in a fresh white suit, some vagrant impulse, I 
suppose, induced him to walk directly into the garden spray for a complete 
ducking. I said, "William, what made you do that?’’. "Well, Mother, if 
I tell you won’t you beat me? Well, just because I wanted to’’. His Grand¬ 
mother Gilbert from that time secretly believed me to be a child beater, 
and said to my mother, "Think of that child, so afraid of his mother!’’ As 
a matter of fact, he seldom needed punishment, only discipline. 

One Sunday, with a big golden curl hanging over one eye, and in his 
new brown velvet suit, with Irish Point lace cuffs and collar, we were walk¬ 
ing about the garden when he stumbled and skinned his knee rather badly. 
He burst into tears, grabbed my hand hard, and looked up and said, "Oh, 
Mother, don’t tell me it doesn’t do me any good to cry’’. He had always 
been taught not to cry. 

At one time he had taken rather a notion to cry over anything or noth¬ 
ing, so I determined to stop that if possible. On the next occasion every 
time he stopped, I said, "Now cry; don't stop; cry all you want to’’, and 
even shook him to make him cry, until he finally said, "Mother, I don’t 
want to cry any more, please don’t make me”. A few lessons completed 
the cure. 

He and his father used to love to draw boats, and to make and sail toy 
boats. It was always, "Faddy, make me a boat”. He is still boat-minded, 
a true aquarius person, and a lover of the sea. Mrs. James Garfield, and 
her daughter, Mrs. Stanley-Brown, were great admirers of William, and 
always said he was the most beautiful child they had ever seen. With his 
red cheeks, and lips like cherries, his light brown curls, dark eyes, and 
merry smile, he was an engaging young person, and always made friends 
everywhere. 

At about twelve I was rather upset over a series of small infractions, 
and one day, in quite a discouraged tone, said, "Oh, William, what shall 

[ 56 ] 


I ever do with you?” He looked at me quite seriously and said, "Well, 
Mother, you know you have never had to punish me twice for the same 
thing”. I realized it for the first time, and said, "Well, William, there 
is hope for you then”. He has proven himself among the people capable 
of learning from experience, and that has stood him in good stead, and 
has given him a philosophy of living which not only works for happiness 
for himself, but for his entire family, friends and business acquaintances. 
Winchester Jones once said, when William came unexpectedly home from 
Yale for an Easter vacation, and all his friends were down at the station 
to greet him, "You know, Mrs. McCay, the whole town feels better when 
Bill is home”. 

Christian Scientists say we are "responsible for the shadows we cast”, 
and Stephen Zweig says, "only a strong light casts a strong shadow”. It 
rests with us to cast shadows or to scatter light along the path for stumbling 
feet. 

That same summer Mother and Miss Benson and the two younger 
boys went to California as Harvey was so delicate. Later the boys entered 
the Thacher School, at Ojai, California, and there they spent five happy 
years. Mother took the old Arnold house on Olcott Place in Pasadena the 
following fall, and invited William and me to come out. We gave up the 
apartment and stored our furniture. One the way west I stopped with 
William to see Aunt Mary, who was then in the Dansville Sanitarium 
stricken with a fatal illness. She had begged me to come and bring the 
baby, the first and only one of the next generation that she was ever to 
see as she died soon afterward. Aunt Kittie and Helen Smith also spent 
that first winter with Mother, Will McCay joining us later, as his business 
venture had not proven successful. Many of his relatives were in Santa 
Barbara, where we made pleasant visits; the Stewart Whites, Philo Fuller 
and his children, and the Ned Gilberts, who were ever my dearest and 
warmest friends. Mother, Kittie and Helen returned to Michigan in the 
spring, since Mother had many business interests, while Miss Benson, the 
boys, and ourselves went up to Highland Springs, and later to Lake Tahoe, 
where Mother and Mother Gilbert again joined us. 


[ 57 ] 


The following fall we took a charming little California bungalow. We 
loved it, but it was cold, and the roof leaked, and one night we spent under 
an umbrella! T. Gilbert White, the painter, visited us that winter and was 
a delightful as well as amusing guest. 

The next summer (1902) Mother bought this house at 201 Orange 
Grove Avenue, South Pasadena, where we have lived in great comfort ever 
since, and where I still live after thirty-six years. Miss Benson and the boys 
spent their vacations here. We had sent to New York for our furniture 
in the meanwhile, and with its three floors it afforded plenty of bedroom 
space. My brother, Melville, Jr., usually came out for the summers. One 
season, I remember, the three boys took a very interesting trip in the High 
Sierras—the same trip which Stewart Edward White and Elizabeth, his 
wife, took the year before and which he describes so vividly in his book, 
"The Mountains”. 

In 1902, just after we had gotten nicely settled in Pasadena, and while 
Junior was a student at the Gunnery, he joined Mother in New York at 
the time of the Dewey parade. A cousin, Anna Bunn of Oneonta, was with 
them, and they stayed at the old Park Avenue Hotel. Mother and Junior 
occupied a suite with large dressing room and bath. In the early morning 
the Armory just opposite caught fire, one of the most spectacular fires 
in the history of New York. The flames jumped across the street to the 
Park Avenue Hotel, spreading from wing to wing. Mother and Junior 
were awakened by the smell of smoke. A woman, wild with fear, entered 
their apartment and insisted upon jumping from their window to the court, 
six floors below. She said to Mother, "Don’t you think we had better 
commend our souls to God and jump?’’ Mother said, No, if you want 
to jump, go and jump from your own window. You can’t jump from 
mine”, whereupon the woman calmed down. Junior said, "Mother, it is 
a terrible death to die”, but Mother replied, "We can only die once, and 
we might as well die like heroes as like cowards”. 

Wrapped in wet sheets they had tried to get out through the corridors. 
Mother had said, "One of you take my skirt on one side, and one on the 
other; and remember, if you cannot walk you can creep”. However, fear- 


[ 58 ] 


ing that they would become lost in the corridors, Mother did what I think 
is the bravest thing one could have done. She said, "We cannot go on, we 
must turn around and go back". It seemed certain death, but it was their 
salvation. A Mrs. Foster, who had lived for fifteen years in the same corri¬ 
dor (she was called the "Tombs Angel” because of her work in the prison) 
tried to get out in this way, became bewildered and lost her life in the 
attempt, along with twenty-three others who either jumped or were suffo¬ 
cated in the corridors. That very morning Mr. Barnett, the manager, had 
said, "Mrs. Bissell, I can give your son a separate room for tonight if you 
like". Mother turned to Junior and asked him what he would like to do, 
and Junior very wisely answered, "Why, Mother, we are very comfortable; 
I think I will stay right where I am”. This probably saved both their lives 
as they would have tried to find one another in the confusion and smoke, 
and so might have perished. They sat on the window ledge for more than 
two hours until the firemen fought their way to them and led them to 
safety. It seemed every moment as if they would be trapped. Mother had 
thrown on a black petticoat, and over that her sealskin coat; and so attired 
they went over the Fifth Avenue Hotel where Mr. Vilas took them in and 
made them comfortable. Mother never quite recovered from the memory 
of the fire, and in travelling, especially through tunnels in Italy, she would 
turn quite pale whenever she got a breath of smoke. 


[ 59 ] 


CHAPTER SIX 


AUTOMOBILE ERA 

T^^^his was just the beginning of the automobile age. Junior had 
"|M bought his first car in the east, a funny old Stanley Steamer; and 
' I f some of us had bought our first Olds. I remember the first trip the 
Mr' boys took with it to the Ojai. It was in the summer and very hot. 

The automobile caught fire, which was extinguished with some 

cold tea I had given them for luncheon. 

In April, 1906, the year of the San Francisco earthquake, we left 

William with his faithful nurse, Miss Bradley, at Mother’s. Harvey and 
I went abroad, landing at Cherbourg. Never shall I forget that lovely 
journey through Normandy to Paris—apple trees all in blossom and spring 
in the air! Harvey had purchased, the year before, a beautiful Darracq 
car, but in Paris he decided to purchase another, a Mercedes, which was the 
finest car then made. We engaged an excellent chauffeur, who promptly 
fell ill, and just as we were leaving Paris we were obliged to take another 
who knew absolutely nothing about a Mercedes. "Jamais de la vie’’, said 
Marcel, had he seen quite so many things go wrong with a car. I thought 
I spoke and understood French quite well; but every part had a strange 
name, and every part went wrong! Fortunately we had a dictionary of 
automobile terms which was invaluable. Before leaving for our trip through 
the chateau country Leigh and Mrs. Guyer joined us. In Poitiers the car 
broke down—the whole engine seemed to have slipped its moorings 
and we had to send it back to Paris "grande vitesse’’ at a cost of a hundred 
and fifty dollars. That was only the beginning of our trials; we had to go 
back ourselves, and lost much valuable time. After making the necessary 
arrangements we left the car for repairs and went down to the mountainous 
Haute Savoie, LePuy and LaBourboule, where we took the baths and had 
a good rest cure. Meanwhile Auguste, our really excellent chauffeur, had 
recovered. We sent him back to Paris with instructions to telegraph us if 
the car was satisfactory. As soon as he was satisfied he returned to Bour- 

[ 60 ] 


boule, and we again started for Nimes, Arles, and Avignon; thence to 
Courmayeur, on the Italian side of the Alps, and finally to Milan, where 
we joined Mrs. Fowler 1 and Kate 2 —the beginning of a beautiful motor 
trip across the north of Italy. 

We had three heavenly days drifting around the Italian Lakes, supper 
al fresco on moonlight nights, to Verona, Vicenza, and Mestre, where we 
left Auguste and the car. Mrs. Fowler’s gondolier met us there with his 
beautiful gondola and two rowers, and so we entered Venice in really the 
right way, toward sunset, at its most lovely moment. A few golden days 
in Venice followed, and then the beauties of the Dolomites-—Belluno to 
the Ampezzo Valley, which is certainly the motorist’s paradise; thence 
down the Valley of the Inn to Innsbruck, through Salzburg and Lienz. We 
regretted not being able to reach Vienna, but time was getting on, so over 
to Switzerland by way of the Arlburg Pass to Interlaken, reaching Geneva, 
where we found Mr. and Mrs. Claypool, 3 the last of August. After some 
lovely excursions around Geneva we then persuaded the Claypools to let 
us take Fay and Agnes with us for a trip through Switzerland and France. 
We left Geneva September fifteenth for the chateau country and Paris; 
thence to London, sailing for America on the S. S. "Pretoria”. 

In the spring of 1907 Junior married Olive Bulkeley, the daughter of 
William Bulkeley, a graduate of Annapolis. It was a beautiful wedding, as 
all accounts testify, and it has been a very happy marriage. They have three 
lovely daughters: Barbara, born 1910; Ann, born 1912; and Eleanor, born 
1915. Their home is admirably situated on Fiske Lake, and is the center of 
the most delightful hospitality, and so carries on the family traditions. 
Barbara married Robert McReynolds in June of 1930, and has one little 
daughter, Barbara Bissell McReynolds. Eleanor married Harold W. Sears 
in January of 1934, and they have a little son, Peter McGregor Sears, born 
in 1935, and a daughter, Tamsen Eldridge Sears, born January 15, 1938. 

Returning to California in July, 1907, my dear Mother Gilbert died very 

1 Mrs. Eldridge M. Fowler. 

2 Kate Fowler (Mrs. Van Santvoord Merle-Smith), Oyster Bay, New York. 

3 Mr. and Mrs. Newton Claypool, Pasadena. 

[ 61 ] 



suddenly while visiting her daughter in Brooklyn, New York. About six 
months later both Lindley Murray, and his and Sarah’s only daughter Grace 
died very suddenly—Lindley of pneumonia, and Grace ten days after the 
birth of her third child. Grace had married Charles Cowperthwaite, of 
Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, and their three children are Lindley Murray 
Cowperthwaite, Joseph and Charles, Jr. Sister Sarah Murray joined us in 
Pasadena that winter, and together we all went to the San Ysidro Ranch, 
Montecito, where we had a very pleasant season and met many interesting 
people. William had lessons that winter with a German governess of Mr. 
Pollock’s sons, James and Arlin, and their cousin, John Whittemore. The 
following winter William entered the new Polytechnic Elementary School, 
established by our dear Virginia Pease Hunt. 1 He and ^Villiam Hale, son 
of Dr. George Ellery Hale, started school together and have remained 
devoted friends and are still almost next-door neighbors. 

In June of 1909 Irving married Loraine Webber, the daughter of 
Charles Webber of Lockport, New York. It was a gay and beautiful wed¬ 
ding. They too went abroad on their honeymoon, with a new Oldsmobile 
car. Mr. and Mrs. Webber joined them later, and a college friend of 
Harvey’s drove. They finally decided to purchase an Isotto Fraschini to 
bring back to this country; but, alas, a serious collision just outside of Rome 
on the Pontine Marshes, put a finish to that. There is a curious law in 
Italy that in the cities you drive on the left, but in the country on the right. 
In any case, they had a head-on collision. George Morrell, the driver, and 
Mr. and Mrs. Webber were quite badly injured; Irving and Loraine not 
at all. Luckily it occurred almost directly in front of the country place of 
the Duca de Seremoneta. The duchessa was English, and most competent 
and kind. She invited them all into her house, sent those needing care to 
the hospital, arranged with the local authorities, and in every way facili¬ 
tated the settlement of the affair. Legal difficulties dissolved like magic. 
When they tried to thank her for her kindness she said that English women 
were trained from their childhood for responsibilities and emergencies. 
Years afterward I met them at the American Embassy in Rome, when Mr. 


'Mrs. Myron Hunt. 


[ 62 ] 



O’Brien was our ambassador, and they invited me to visit them in their 
country place and were simply charming. She was a beautfiul woman of 
about fifty, and he was considered the handsomest man in Italy. As I 
thanked them I thought of the old verse, 

"Kind hearts are more than coronets, 

And simple faith than Norman blood ”. 1 

Irving and Loraine have two fine sons: Charles Webber, born in 1911; 
and Wadsworth Bissell, born in 1913. Charles Webber Bissell married 
February 18, 1933, Mary Fuller Matheson, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. 
Charles W. Matheson. They have had two sons: Charles Webber Bissell, 
Jr. (born November 25, 1933, died February 20, 1934), and William 
Fuller Bissell, (born October 20, 1933). Wadsworth Bissell married 
Hillary Rarden (born December 24, 1912) the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. 
W. L. Rarden, of Greenville, Michigan, on May 9, 1936. They have one 
son, Brereton Wadsworth Bissell (born November 3, 1937, in Phoenix, 
Arizona) named for his great-great grandmother, Lady Brereton, of the 
House of Ussher, Ireland. 

Overwork in the Liberty Loan Drive was the cause of Loraine’s death 
from pneumonia, April 16, 1918—"a soldier in the cause”, so her doctor 
said. 

After Irving’s marriage, Mother, Aunt Kittie, Uncle Dite, Miss Benson, 
William and I motored all through that beautiful central New York 
country, where I saw, after all those years, many of my old school friends. 
Mary Wilkeson, my bridesmaid, spent two whole days with us—-such a joy 
for us both! Mary had had a most tragically unhappy life. 

How time flies, and life flies, and my pen too much, I fear; but the 
stories seem to flow of their own accord, and it is difficult to cut out the 
thousands of incidents, grave, gay or interesting, as they recur to me. Some 
of the memories are too sad, some too sacred, and some too intimate. In 
a life as varied as mine has been I can only hope to give a touch now and 
then to some of the main events, and those so imperfectly. Philosophizing 
I shall leave for better writers. 

Tennyson: "Lady Clara Vere de Vere”. 


[ 63 ] 



In the fall of 1909 we sailed for Genoa, having decided to put William 
in a Swiss school. Poor laddie, an only child, and much parent-ridden! I 
felt he needed to be with boys. Nor did I like moving pictures, funny 
papers, or women teachers for boys. We never regretted our decision, or 
the three years we spent in Switzerland, and the one winter in Germany. 
Our first summer we spent in Brittany; June, 1911, with all the pageantry 
of the coronation of King George V, was spent in England; another sum¬ 
mer we were on the Island of Jersey, or travelling in England, with its 
opportunities and advantages—museums, meeting worthwhile people, to 
say nothing of the languages we were acquiring. For William it was a 
wonderful opportunity and laid the foundation for his architectural work. 



Irving Joy Bissell 


Melville Reuben Bissell, Jr. 


Harvey Sutherland Bissell 



























CHAPTER SEVEN 


MY THREE BROTHERS 

7 / < |\^ EFORE landing in Gibraltar came the cable telling of Harvey’s 
If J y terrible accident in which he was so seriously injured and Agnes 
IC?\ Claypool—-our beloved Agnes—was killed. Such a sorrow for us 

^ I all! Mother and Miss Benson spent months in Pasadena with 

J Harvey. His wonderful pluck carried him through, and he has 

lived to be a useful citizen, and a fine husband and father. 

December 19, 1913, Harvey married Marjorie Janet McLachlan, the 
daughter of James McLachlan, who for twelve years was congressman from 
California. The Southern Pacific had large holdings of land in Santa 
Monica and were determined upon that site, and Congressman McLachlan 
was largely instrumental in securing the Los Angeles Harbor at San Pedro. 
They have had six children: Dorothy Ann, born December 2, 1915; 
Marjorie Jean, born July 22, 1918—died in 1924; James McLachlan, born 
April 10,1922—died from rattlesnake bite in 1926; Caroline, born October 
8, 1923—died the same week; Ann Sutherland, born October 2, 1926; and 
John McLachlan, born February 16, 1931. 

May 8, 1920, a lovely spring day for a wedding, Irving married Clara 
Olds (b. April 18, 1896) the daughter of George B. and Marion Olds. 
William and Marion, her sister, were the best man and maid-of-honor. 
Dr. Olds was professor and Dean of Amherst College for forty years, and 
for two years its president. They have two sons: Melville III, born February 
28, 1921; and John Daniel (good old name) born May 9, 1925. 

August 6, 1932, following Fred Deane’s death, "M. R.” 1 took over the 
management of the business. He had prepared himself for this work, serv¬ 
ing a long and arduous apprenticeship in every department from the base¬ 
ment up, even to the running of the elevator and making out payrolls. 
He once said that nothing had given him so clear an idea of the value of 
a dollar as to realize the long hours of labor for the comparatively small 


1 Melville Reuben, Jr. 


[ 65 ] 



sums received as wages by the workers. He knew the men personally from 
having worked at the bench with them; he knew their problems, and some¬ 
times the solutions; and, therefore, was well fitted to take the position of 
general manager and president, of which he has made a great success. He 
has the loyalty and unfailing devotion of his men. Shortly after Mother’s 
death, and soon after a very serious accident to M. R.'s eye, Byrd, Mother s 
devoted chauffeur of many years, said to me, "Mrs. McCay, do you know 
that every day when I go to work the first question is, Byrd, how is Mr. 
Bissell to-day?’, and 1 do not believe there is any other factory in Grand 
Rapids where the men would really care as they do for Mr. Bissell. There 
is not a man in the factory who does not respect and admire him. 

He is the balance wheel which keeps us all straight. His avocation and 
passion is for horses. He keeps several hunters, is Master of the Hounds, 
and keeps a small pack, and helps to promote an interest in sports, hunting 
and horsemanship, duckhunting and sailing. Besides his work on the 
Blodgett Hospital Board, the Tuberculosis Association, and the Community 

Chest, he is active in many other philanthropies. 

As for my brother Harvey, he has always travelled in a class by himself. 
He is a great little brother; he has done big things, whether in Conservation 
work, the building up of the fire-fighting units in La Crescenta Valley and 
developing water there, the building of their modern school house; or 
heading the Los Angeles County Farm Bureau. He has negotiated two yacht 
trips to the South Seas—first in the "Wanderlust”, a full account of which is 
given in his book 1 first published in 1930, and then his longer trip in the 
"Ariadne”, Gilbert Pinchot’s former yacht, with a party of twenty-one 
including the captain. That took them over part of the same ground as the 
previous trip, and on around the world by way of the southern hemisphere, 
including that particularly dangerous crossing from Madagascar and 
around the Cape of Good Hope. They were reported lost, but fortunately 
weathered the terrible gales. That voyage lasted from December, 1931, 
until January, 1933—thirteen months. Since then he has continued to live 
as a rancher in La Crescenta until he made up his mind to go into the cattle 

X H. S. Bissell, 1930, "Cruising with the Wanderlusters ”. 

[ 66 ] 





business in New Mexico. He has always steered a straight course, and has 
always won admiration for his good sportsmanship, his devotion to his 
family, and to civic interests. 

Irving is the Nimrod and the Isaak Walton of the family; a yachtsman, 
sailing in the Mackinac Races, Newfoundland and Labrador. He is much 
interested in the Association for the Blind and the Camp Fire Girls. At 
present he is writing fiction. 1 

I should like to write more about my brothers, and the fine, generous 
things they do, but shall leave this task for the younger generation to carry 
on, and I hope they will find as much satisfaction in the writing as I have 
had, for there are no ignoble records to make. 


X ”A Sow’s Ear”, published in 1937 by Julian Messner, Inc. 

[ 67 ] 



CHAPTER EIGHT 


STILL TRAVELLING 

j/^jXCEPT for some business worries, and Harvey s accident, the period 
from 1900 to 1910 was the most carefree part of Mother’s life. 
We were married and were bringing up our children in the way 
she approved; at least, if she didn’t approve we never knew it. 

We all have the itching foot and have travelled far and wide in 
the great world. In 1812 Mother, Kitty and Miss Benson took the Mediter¬ 
ranean Cruise, landing at Alexandria, where I joined them for a month in 
Egypt and a trip down the Nile to V^ady Haifa and the second cataract. 
The Nile was too shallow to allow time for a trip to Khartoum, as we had 
hoped. Returning to Cairo, and on to Jaffa, and Jerusalem for Easter; then 
a driving trip through the Holy Land with Ibraham, who had been drago¬ 
man for Kaiser Wilhelm the previous year; thence to Damascus and Beirut, 
where Miss Benson suffered a nearly fatal illness. Mother and Aunt Kitty 
stayed on with her, while I joined another party sailing for Smyrna and 
Constantinople, through the Sea of Marmora, thence to Athens, across 
Greece, and to Naples, where Will and William met me. Henry, our 
colored chauffeur, had previously arrived there with Mother s car, and the 
family joined us a few days later. We motored to Rome, the Hill Towns, 
Florence, over the Apennines to Venice, through the Dolomites, on to 
Munich, and through Mad King Ludwig’s picturesque country. I then 
returned to Vevey in order to pack for America, while the family continued 
on through Germany with their seven words of German; then across 
Switzerland and France to Paris for the usual sights and a few new clothes; 
over to London, a marvelous trip through England and Scotland, to Inver¬ 
ness and back to Liverpool, sailing by a Canadian steamer for Montreal 

and home. 

We had no more than gotten home before I was taken violently ill and 
spent nine weeks in bed at Mother s. Somehow I managed to pull through, 
and in January we returned to Pasadena where William again entered the 

[68] 



Anna Bissell 












Polytechnic Elementary School and graduated in 1914. In August of that 
year came the World War, and I plunged into Red Cross war work, and 
hardly thought of anything else during that time. In the fall of 1914 
William entered the Thacher School, where he spent four profitable years. 
In June of 1817 Uncle Dite died—a great grief for us all. Later Kitty 
came out and stayed with me. The summer of 1918 we spent in Glacier 
National Park where William had some tutoring, entering Yale and the 
Naval LInit in September. I went on to New York and engaged in nursing 
through the flu epidemic, and in work at Greenwich House. Later in the 
winter I returned to Grand Rapids and nursed Junior through a severe 
case of flu. Olive was also very ill at her mother’s, and it was practically 
impossible to get nurses. Junior was on leave from Camp Kearney, where 
he was a major in the Red Cross unit, and in charge of Red Cross work in 
Camp Kearney and Fort Rosencranz. Later he returned there and received 
his honorable discharge. 

In March, 1928, Kitty and I sailed for Palermo on the old Fabre Liner 
"Canada”. I think we never enjoyed a trip more. We spent a few weeks 
in Sicily, and then went by easy stages to Naples, Rome, and Florence, 
where I had another serious illness. As soon as I was able to travel we 
decided to go over to Corsica and there we spent an absorbing month. 
Upon our arrival Captain Henry Dundas, the British consul, and his wife, 
came to call to ask for assistance for the Russian refugees, of whom there 
were several thousands in barracks and on old ships in the harbor. These 
refugees were making their way, with the aid of the Allied governments 
and the Red Cross, to Brazil. Some of them were people of high position 
and intelligence, but with absolutely not an earthly possession left except 
the clothes in which they stood, and in some cases, only pajamas furnished 
by the Red Cross. They had the greatest feeling of gratitude for what the 
Red Cross of America had done for them at Constantaninople in providing 
them with blankets and food. The ships were over crowded and broken 
down. Where they had landed they had in many cases been obliged to 
pawn everything they had in order to get food enough to live. To see 
people who had lost their homes, their fortunes, their families, and even 


[ 69 ] 


their country, was an experience I shall never forget. Many of them came 
down to the steamer to see us off and to thank us for the little we had been 
able to do. Captain Dundas was the son of Lord Melville, born in the 
palace of Maximilian in Rio de Janiero. He was a nephew of Lord Haldane 
(where the Kaiser was then staying) and related to half the nobility of 
England. When I first met him I thought he was a gentleman, but when 
he insisted upon carrying home himself our old clothes for the refugees, 

I knew that he was one. 

After a very rough crossing we reached Marsailles, where I visited my 
little "filleule”, Helene de Balenda. Following this we took a very charm¬ 
ing coaching trip through the Pyrenees, spent two or three days in Car¬ 
cassonne, and then proceeded leisurely toward Paris, where we met William 
who had come over to meet his father who was doing Red Cross work in 
London. 

One of the outstanding events of that trip was our visit to the battle¬ 
fields and cemeteries. We visited Verdun on a saint’s day, and as we stood 
in the little chapel where masses were said for the dead, with the coffins 
still heaped about us, we realized perhaps more vividly than ever before 
the awful devastation of war. Late that night we returned to our hotel, 
very tired, and Kitty said, with tears in her eyes, "Dorothy, I think this is 
the most wonderful day I have ever spent in my whole life . 

We had a most interesting trip through Holland, Belgium, and over 
to England; a day or two with Mary Widdicomb Joass in her charming 
English home, a short time in London, and returned to America in time 
for the opening of college. 

In 1922 William graduated from Yale, and it certainly was a source 
of great satisfaction to me to see him take his place with his peers, and to 
feel that I had been able to give him all the benefits that a college of that 
rank confers. That summer I returned to Pasadena and home, while 
William made a small experiment in farming. Falling ill at that job, he 
signed up as a common seaman with the Matson Line and sailed for 
Honolulu on a little old freighter loaded to the "gunn’les” with lumber 
and T N T. I think he would have been quite happy to have followed the 


[ 70 ] 


sea, as his great-grandfather had, but upon his return he became interested 
in architecture and entered the office of Marston & Van Pelt, where he 
remained for about a year and a half. 

In February of 1922 Mother, Kitty and Ethel, and I took the West 
Indies Cruise, sailing by the "Empress of Britain” for Cuba, Jamaica, 
Panama, La Guaira, and over the Andes to Caracas; thence to Trinidad, 
the Barbadoes, Martinique, the Virgin Islands, Porto Rico, Nassau, Ber¬ 
muda, and back to New York—an interesting, pleasant and restful trip, 
but with little to record. The most outstanding things to my mind were 
the wonderful botanical gardens, with their fruits and spices and great 
variety of flowers—all of exquisite beauty—-where the people, black and 
white, all seem to live in a lovely, languorous dream. 

In April of 1923, Mother, Kitty and I sailed for Honolulu and Japan. 
Mother firmly announced that she intended coming right back with the 
same ship, but as both Kittie and I had a great yearning for China, and 
wanted to see more of Japan than we could see from the deck of the ship, 
we finally coaxed her to let us have our way. We have always been thank¬ 
ful that we did so, for once embarked on the enterprise Mother thoroughly 
enjoyed herself. We reached Honolulu on the 20th, where we were met 
by Mrs. Campbell and Jimmie, Bill’s school and college friend for eight 
years. It was about six in the morning, and they insisted upon taking us 
to their beautiful home, where we had a delicious breakfast served at one 
end of the lanai which extended all around the house. It was a sort of 
fairy setting,—the little Japanese maids, the flowers, the aroma of delicious 
coffee, and the hospitality,—it is another unforgettable picture. We were 
literally covered with sweet smelling leis of Cape jasmine when our ship 
sailed at five, and our cabins were filled with delicious native fruits and 
still more flowers. Their kindness quite overwhelmed me. 

On Tuesday, May 1, we arrived at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama, and 
had our first ricksha ride, a pleasant and very easy mode of transportation. 
We were met by Taro (Joe) Asai, who had been with us as house boy from 
the time William was about three until he went with Harvey in 1910. He 
was with Harvey a great many years after that, when he returned to Japan 


[ 71 ] 


and married a widow of good position and some means. He was very well 
born and well educated, and gave us a most delightful visit in his own 
country, accompanying us as guide to Kyoto and Nara; thence by train to 
Osaka and Kobe, where we again embarked on the "Tenyo Maru”. Na¬ 
gasaki was fascinating from the water, but we were more interested in 
watching the native women coal the ship. They are said to have made a 
world record doing it. 

In Honolulu we had arranged for our trip to Pekin from Shanghai. 
Arriving there we were upset to learn of the famous bandit raid in which 
people of all nationalities, including even American army officers with their 
families, had been taken off the train the night before and made to walk 
miles, and had been confined in the bandits’ hideouts. We got in touch 
with the American consul and all the agencies to see if they thought it safe 
for us to go on. We had met a very nice young Englishman, H. B. Pelling 
by name, who had lived eleven years in China, and who spoke five Chinese 
dialects. He had also done some bandit work and knew what it was all 
about. When we asked Mother if she did not think we had better give up 
the trip she said, "Oh, no. I don’t think there will be another raid right 
away, and I think it would be a good time to go, if Mr. Pelling will go 
with us”. It was so agreed, and we started out with considerable trepida¬ 
tion. A line of soldiers was drawn up at every station, our train was fired 
on, and they would not run at night through the bandit country. However, 
we have always been glad we did not give it up, and after the first few 
hours in Pekin all agreed that we would go to five times the trouble, ex¬ 
pense and danger for the sake of our five days there. They were filled with 
interesting and varied experiences—for instance, we met the little boys 
who had been captured by the bandits and whom the American major in 
Tientsin had arranged to ransom. Their fathers were still with the bandits, 
but their mothers met them at the station. I never saw anything more 
touching. 

Pekin and China need a volume for themselves. After a day in Shang¬ 
hai we sailed for Hongkong, where we had almost a full day, going that 
night by river steamer to Canton, the filthiest place I ever saw in my life, 

C72] 


but interesting. No roads—just crooked, unpaved streets—so you went 
everywhere in sedan chairs. The five chairs for our party would cover one 
city block. Then we rejoined our old "Tenyo Mam”, and though the beds 
were just as hard as ever, we were glad to get back to them and resume 
our journey through the Philippines to Honolulu, arriving in San Francisco 
about the twentieth of June. We came straight on home, Mother and Kittie 
leaving soon after for Grand Rapids. 

On the 8th of May, 1924, Douglas McLachlan, who had spent the 
winter with us, William and I, started for Quebec and Europe. We sailed 
by the "Comma”. Hervey Clark joined us as the boys wanted to do some 
architectural work together. Landing at Liverpool we purchased a Bean 
car; the boys took a driving lesson, procured driving licenses, and the next 
day we were off on one of the loveliest trips we have ever had. From 
Chester, with its quaint shops, we motored to Ripon and Fountain’s Abbey. 
We found Durham on its hill, "half church, half fortress”, one of the most 
impressive of all the English cathedrals. In the evening we had a very 
delightful talk with Mrs. Cass Gilbert and her daughter. We left Durham 
with real regret. It was Ascension Day, and we had heard the most divine 
music there, soaring up through those lofty vaults-—I can still hear it 
ringing after all these years. 

From Durham to York, with its beautiful windows, but to me not so 
impressive as Durham. The town itself was fascinating with its old shops, 
and what is called the "Shambles”,—-a most curious street of old houses. 
York is full of charm, a Roman and Medieval combination. I won’t attempt 
to take all the steps of our journey, but I must speak of our lovely day in 
Lincoln, in and around the "queen of cathedrals”. From Lincoln to 
Peterborough, where Mary, Queen of Scots, was formerly buried; and 
then Norwich where Queen Elizabeth once stayed, and where Edith Cavell 
now lies. Here is the famous "Maid’s Head Inn”, now over five hundred 
years old, where we stayed a second night; thence to Ely, and to Cambridge, 
which we adored. It was Commencement time and all sorts of interesting 
things were happening. We walked on the "Backs” and rowed on the 
river. We visited all the famous chapels, and had luncheon with Mr. and 


[ 73 ] 


Mrs. Ockelston at Bourne Hall. We had run across her sister, Miss Nichols, 
whom we had met on the steamer. The Hall is Tudor and most interesting. 
The Hall table is 11th or 12th century, and there we had tea. It was quite 
a family party. It was a little too wet for tennis, but we all thought it one 
of our nicest days. 

We arrived in London the ninth of June and spent nearly two weeks 
there doing the usual round of sight-seeing, theatres, and visiting friends. 
We were over a week in Oxford, attending some of the Commencement 
exercises, visiting Stratford, Warwick, and Kenilworth, and Compton 
Wynyates, the finest old Tudor mansion in all England. We spent a lovely 
day and night with Mary Joass in her charming English home at Lilliput. 
Margaret and Marion Brackenridge joined us and we motored to the south 
of England. 

On the 14th of July we left England by way of Southampton, landing at 
San Malo and Mont. St. Michael; through Normandy, Avranche, Coutance, 
Caen, Bayeaux with its wonderful tapestries; then to Dives and its 
famous inn, "William the Conqueror”, to Deauville, Lisieux, Rouen and 
Paris. We visited, of course, all the surrounding towns, Fontainebleau, 
Versailles, and then on to Chartres, Blois, and the chateau country, which 
I shall not try to describe as it is so well known. We headed straight for 
Nimes, Arles and Avignon, Monte Carlo and Genoa, and for my dear 
old hotel, the "Florence Washington” in Florence, where we again joined 
the Clarks; thence to Peruggia and back to Florence. On the 6th of 
September came the news of dear little Mollie’s 1 death from diphtheria- 
such an incredible thing to have happened! 

In the meantime William had gone back to London, but later joined 
Douglas and me in Venice. William, Helen and Hervey Clark sailed for 
America, the two boys to re-enter Pennsylvania School of Architecture, 
while Douglas and I decided to go over the Apennines and through the 
Dolomites, as beautiful a country as one can ever hope to see, returning to 
Florence for a few days, and on to Siena, San Gimignano, Peruggia, 
Gubbio, Viterbo, and Rome. After about ten days in Rome we made 

1 Marjorie Jean Bissell, August 7 , 1924. 


[ 74 ] 



arrangements to ship the car to Pasadena, and early in November sailed 
on the "Duilio”, a very rough crossing, and were we glad to be back in our 
own country again! 

Before returning to Pasadena in 1925 Mother, Ethel, Kitty and I 
thought it would be fun to take a short trip to Mexico, which we did by 
way of New Orleans. Mrs. Hazeltine and Fannie had given us wonderful 
letters of introduction to their friends there, as Fannie’s husband, Count 
Montgelas, had been ambassador to Mexico from Germany. Everyone was 
most kind to us, and many beautiful entertainments were given, as well 
as visits to all the places of interest near there—the Temple of 
Quetzacohuatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon at San Juan, which 
we thought as interesting as anything we saw in Egypt. We did not go to 
Puebla as there was a great deal of unrest and it was not considered safe. 
We felt we should like a longer time there, and that a trip to Mexico 
would repay anyone. 

In 1926 William and I went abroad again, sailing for England. After 
a short time there we went to Denmark, Norway and Sweden; never have 
we enjoyed a trip more. Returning to London both J. J. Joass, R. I. B. A. and 
Frank Newbury 1 advised William to visit Vienna and see what was interest¬ 
ing in the way of architectural schools there before deciding to work in the 
Beaux Arts in Paris that year. We spent a short time in Paris looking for 
an apartment, and having secured one, joined the Newburys in Vienna. 
It was a worthwhile experience, but did not particularly allure either of us. 
We had an attractive little apartment at 244 Boulevard Raspail, and our 
first taste of Latin Quarter life. William worked under Gromort, in one 
of the best ateliers in Paris. We met some delightful young people who 
were working there, and our apartment became the center of many pleasant 
entertainments. We were especially fond of the Barton Jenks and the 
Kenneth Crowes. Both of them have proven themselves excellent architects 
and are doing fine work. 

In January I went over to stay with Mary Joass, but when I returned a 
short time later a serious operation seemed inevitable; and though William 


1 Art director of Glasgow School of Design. 

[75] 




was ill at the time I decided to have it immediately. Thanks to my very 
good French surgeon, I pulled through, and as soon as I was able to travel, 
the first of April, we gave up our apartment and took the Rome Express; 
thence to Sicily and the Dio Doro, Taormina, where we spent six weeks 
recuperating and basking in the sunshine. Kenneth and Dorothy Crowe 
joined us there. Later on we returned to Rome for a short time where we 
had left the car; then another motor trip, again to the Hill Towns and to 
Florence, over the Apennines to Genoa, from which port we shipped the 
car (this time a Fiat), sailing by the Italian liner, "Conte Verde", early in 
July for New York and home. 

I did not return to Pasadena until late that fall. The family joined me 
again after Christmas. The following year Harvey took his famous cruise 
to the South Seas in the "Wanderlust", a full account of whose adventures, 
with his wife and two children, is recounted in his book. 1 The following 
year, 1928,1 think it was in June, Marjorie, Dodo and Ann, Eunice Bissell, 
Mother, Kittie and I all sailed from San Francisco on the "Makura" to join 
Harvey in Papeete where he had engaged the Branders’ beautiful old place, 
large and old-fashioned, with verandas all around. The house was set in 
an old garden and cocoanut grove, and there was a three hundred foot 
beach. The native people we found pleasant to know and charming in 
appearance. Many writers live on the island. Norman Hall and Charles 
Nordhoff, who have married native women, seem very happy. Robert 
Keable died, leaving a child and the mother, Ena, a Solomon Islander by 
birth, from one of the reigning families. 

One Sunday we were invited to Gouverneur Morris attractive place to 
a native feast with forty of the best dancers from nearby islands. About 
a hundred guests were invited. It began at eleven in the morning with 
cocktails, and was a continuous performance until six. A long pavillion 
was built and decorated with hibiscus. Native foods of every description 
were served; the dish I really enjoyed most was freshly caught raw tuna, 
ground almost to a pulp, covered with fresh lime juice, spices and cocoanut 
milk—it was really delicious. We had roast breadfruit, taro root, young 

1 Harvey S. Bissell, "Cruising with the Wanderlusters”, 1931. 

[76] 



roast pig, covered with leaves and roasted in a pit, and chicken with poi. 

Another beautiful day we spent with Mr. and Mrs. Giles, who have 
the finest home on the island—very attractive and comfortable, with de¬ 
lightful native features. We were invited to many other small dinners, and 
many people dined with us. We bathed, walked along the beach and 
crossed the little streams that empty into the sea. There were many 
mosquitoes, but the heat was never extreme, and we thoroughly enjoyed 
our month spent under the wide and tropic sky. Never have I seen more 
gorgeous moonlight or sunsets. 

We had a three-day sail in Harvey’s yacht to the lovely island of Morea. 
En route to New Zealand we passed the Island of Raratonga, a beautiful 
little island under the protectorate of New Zealand. The wild oranges 
there are delicious, and they raise quantities of tomatoes for the New 
Zealand markets. We were six days late in reaching New Zealand, and, 
oh, how cold it was! We passed many snowy ranges of mountains from 
which came a chilling wind. In Wellington we had a magnificent drive 
all over the hills, then left for National Park, where we spent a night in 
the coldest little hotel I have ever visited. It was about like the Yosemite 
in winter—and no heat! We spent a couple of days at Weiraki—similar to 
Yellowstone—a beautiful wild country, with very high mountains, mag¬ 
nificent lakes, and rushing torrents. From Weiraki we visited the Waitoma 
Caves, very curious limestone formations. Under one of them a noisy 
underground river flows. At night we visited the glow-worm cave, in 
which there is an underground lake, and above, like the firmament, are 
suspended literally millions of glow-worms. At a breath they turn off their 
little lights. 

We had two days in Auckland before sailing on a crowded little boat, 
the "Tofua”, for the inter-island trip. We had one cabin for the three of 
us, and not even a bathroom on that deck! The boat carried pigs, sheep, 
cows, and even chickens, so Kittie christened it "Shore Acres” or "Old 
Homestead”. It commenced to get warmer almost immediately, and when 
we reached Suva, four days later, we were in summer weather again. The 
Fijian is of quite a different type—distinctly negroid—with quantities of 


C77] 




bushy hair, but slender, fine looking, and friendly, though on one of the 
islands cannibalism had existed only ten years before. 

Our next stop was at Levuka, thence to Nukualofa, the residence of 
the Queen of the Tonga Islands group. In spite of the heavy rains we 
went twice to church that Sunday, and never have I heard lovelier singing. 
They cannot sing out of tune. The natives here are larger and heavier 
built than the Fijians, genial but very lazy. They are very religious, and 
spend most of the day on Sunday singing hymns, or "himine” in the church. 

At Vavau, where we spent about two days, we had an interesting trip 
to a cave something like the Blue Grotto. En route to Samoa we passed 
Falcon Island, a curious volcanic mound, which appears and disappears 
every few years. It is now about three hundred feet high, but is disappear¬ 
ing very rapidly. There is no life of any kind, not even bird life, on the 
island. Our next stop was Samoa, where the natives are the pleasantest 
and most intelligent of any of the islands, though they are discontented 
with the present government system. We had tea with Colonel and Mrs. 
Allen at Government House. This house was formerly Robert Lewis 
Stevenson’s home. His grave is on the top of the mountain just behind the 
house, and we were shown the garden, and his favorite bathing pool. 

At Honolulu, where we spent a delightful week, we were entertained 
by Governor and Mrs. Farrington, and Frances Whittemore, the governor’s 
daughter, did everything to make our stay pleasant, going with us to Hilo 
on the island of Hawaii to see the extinct volcanoes. It was with mingled re¬ 
gret and joy that we sailed on the "Calawaii” for San Pedro, reaching there 
the twenty-third of September, having safely completed a journey of four¬ 
teen thousand miles. I cannot enumerate the thousands of impressions 
that remain with me; perhaps the one I shall remember longest is of 
waving cocoanut palms along the shores, the groups of little thatched 
cottages, and the smiling, friendly natives. Harvey returned early in 
September, 1929, and sold the "Wanderlust”. The next year he bought 
the "Ariadne”. 


[ 78 ] 





Anna Bissell McCay and William Sutherland McCay 










CHAPTER NIN E 


MY SON 



hen one stands so near a picture or personality as I stand 
toward my son it is difficult to get a good perspective. 
After the carefree life that I have indicated, and his start in 
his chosen profession, which seemed to promise well for 
the future, occurred his marriage in 1930. April 26 was a 


perfect spring day, and William and Katharine Tilt were married at her 
father’s beautiful home, with about sixty close friends and relatives present. 
They left for a short motor trip through Arizona, returning and settling 
near me in Pasadena. Their daughter Sabra Ellsworth was born September 
8, 1931, and their second child, Dorothy Bissell, was born March 7, 1936. 

The year after his marriage the depression started and through our 
good friend, Myron Hunt, and his wife, Virginia, we all became deeply 
interested in the then most vital question of the day:—food, clothing and 
shelter for those thrown out of employment. The first step that we person¬ 
ally undertook was the so-called "Block-Aid” work, modelled on the New 
York plan. About $80,000.00 was raised and, we feel, wisely administered. 
Briefly the plan was to provide money for wages, while public and semi¬ 
public institutions were to provide materials for necessary repairs and addi¬ 
tions to their buildings. William was appointed on a committee to make 
surveys for this work. 

In observing the men sitting idly in employment offices, or roaming 
dejectedly about the streets in search of work, the idea of a recreation 
center came to him. With the encouragement of the city directors, and 
Superintendent Gilbert Skutt of the Park Department, space in Central 
Park was allotted to them and a recreational director supplied by the city 
department. Almost immediately the necessity of giving the men a cup of 
coffee and doughnut, or hot soup, was upon us. Bakeries and groceries 
contributed, and a new movement was started, in a very simple way. 

Not long afterward we read in the Los Angeles papers of the formation 


[79] 


of the "barter units". The idea appealed to us all as a good one, and such 
a group was rapidly formed in Pasadena, and was, I believe, the second 
in formation, but thirteenth to receive its charter, in Southern California. 
It grew like a mushroom. Everyone turned toward it with enthusiasm as 
being the way out to provide food, at least. Stores were opened on Colorado 
Street, the rent of which was contributed by the owners; groups, larger 
and larger in number, were sent out into the fields and to greater distances. 
Tons and tons of food poured in every week. The men worked with 
alacrity, and were chosen to head different departments, or to work in 
various groups as their ability permitted. William was chosen president of 
the organization, with a council of a dozen or more men. They finally had 
to move into still larger quarters, where a real warehouse was put into 
operation. By that time they had several trucks and the city was contribut¬ 
ing gasoline to operate them; machine shops and a repair shop had been 
established, and a radio station set up. Then the men wanted to start a 
social organization. Again the city gave them one of their municipal build¬ 
ings for the purpose, where they had dances for the young people, musical 
programs, and cards and games for the older ones and the children. Some¬ 
times they gave clever little plays. There was also an excellent Women’s 
Auxiliary which conducted the repairing and rehabilitation of old gar¬ 
ments, and the distribution of shoes, of which we collected thousands and 
thousands of pairs. There were many side issues into which I cannot go, 
but this gives a brief resume of the most important or interesting features. 

And so it continued to grow and develop along many lines until the 
grand finale came when we took over the management of the Busch 
Gardens, with an opening fete on July 22, 1933. After the War, the 
Gardens, through the generosity of Mrs. Adolphus Busch, had been 
operated by the veterans, and all funds realized had been used for their 
benefit; but that plan was no longer in effect, so this was a logical step for 
the Civic Relief. We had excellent committees who worked wholeheartedly 
to get the best possible help to put the Gardens into first-class condition, 
and to make the occasion worthy of so beautiful a setting. Special credit 
is due to Mrs. James Spencer Brown for securing the extraordinary array 


[80] 


of theatrical talent-—features that ranged from bands and side-shows to 
a baby elephant, and music by the Bull Dog Band. Mrs. Paul Honberger, 
with her assistants, undertook to seat comfortably and serve about seven 
hundred people with a delicious hot chicken dinner. Ann Harding 
graciously consented to assist, and represented the Estate in turning over 
the keys of the "Million Dollar Show Place” to the Pasadena Civic Associa¬ 
tion to operate for two years as a sight-seeing concession. Many other 
film players were among the guests as well as our most representative 
citizens; in fact, people came from all over this part of the country, express¬ 
ing pleasure in the fact that the Gardens could again be enjoyed and would 
be open to the public. Ann Harding, in a happy little speech, recalled the 
pleasure brought to herself and other members of the East Lynne cast 
when that picture was made in the Gardens. William McCay, president 
of the association, thanked the Estate for making possible this new source 
of revenue. The occasion was a happy one, especially for those of us who 
had worked for almost two years in the cause. About ten thousand dollars 
was realized. 

By this time, of course, there were about a hundred and twenty co¬ 
operative units in the country. While fewer crops and vegetables had been 
planted, much more was being harvested and sold by the farmers. Thus 
it became increasingly difficult to obtain enough to feed the dependent 
families, which by that time had grown to almost five thousand persons. 
The government’s first real relief machinery was then set up, and the men 
commenced to drift away into government projects, so that the same need 
did not exist for the continuation of the program, and it seemed wiser to 
let the men interested enough to stay keep on with their own departments. 
As long as the unit had a disinterested head it flourished, but when it be¬ 
came leaderless it fell to pieces. 

By that time, of course, as things seemed better, William was naturally 
anxious to again take up his own work. Among the buildings William has 
designed is the Red Cross Chapter House in Pasadena, (considered by 
many the finest in the country), the gift of General Charles McC. Reeve. 
Mr. McClintock, the financial head of the Red Cross, has said: 


[81] 


’’Formerly it has been the policy of the Red Cross not to en¬ 
courage ownership of property or chapter houses, because the 
Red Cross in the early days was not a permanent enough or¬ 
ganization. Now that has been changed, and they are encourag¬ 
ing chapters to own chapter houses; it has become a definite 
part of community life, and the Pasadena Chapter House has 
been one thing that has helped to convince them.” 

William has had positions of trust and importance, serving as president 
of the Architects’ Association of Pasadena, and later as secretary of the 
state association. November 2, 1933, the following citation was given him 

by the American Legion of Pasadena: 

"The American Legion recognizes with this citation the demo¬ 
cratic role you have played in leading hundreds of Pasadena s 
unemployed men as they sought to support their families by 
bartering unsaleable labor for the food and clothing with which 
to sustain life. You have worked shoulder to shoulder with the 
man in the ranks to build a co-operative organization once 
numbering 2500 men and, in so doing, have re-opened Busch 
Gardens to the public. 

’’With nothing personal to gain, your voluntary sacrifices to 
alleviate economic distress reflect distinction upon yourself, 
and add to the traditions of your City.” 

William is a good son, a good citizen, a good father, and step-father, a good 
friend, and, I hear, a good architect. 


[82] 


CHAPTER TEN 


RED CROSS: AROUND THE WORLD 

|| unning through the thread of my life for the past twenty-four 
I y ears h as been the Red Cross. Since helping to organize the first 
l/vT group in November of 1914 my interest has been continuous, and 
!avT I feel it is one of the most satisfactory pieces of work with which 
^ I have been associated. I was very happy when chosen as a 
delegate to the International Congress in Tokyo in October of 1934. This 
trip I made accompanied by William and Katharine, and Mr. and Mrs. 
Milton Davidson. 

Our visit to Japan as delegates to the 15 th International Red Cross 
Conference, when fifty-nine nations sat down together to discuss such 
world problems as alleviation of distress caused by war, health, education, 
and the Junior Red Cross, will ever remain in our minds as an event of 
outstanding importance; but not for that reason alone, nor the meetings 
and round-tables,—important as they were,—but as an achievement in 
hospitality and the perfection of entertainment offered us by the nobles of 
Japan, her Emperor, and Empress, who all entertained us royally; above 
all shall we remember the kindness and courtesy of the people of the 
Flowery Kingdom. 

The arrangements for our comfort were perfect. The finest private 
automobiles, with attendants, were at our service; railroad passes to any 
part of the Empire, reduced hotel rates and aeroplane travel, while the 
entertainments were fabulous. There were dinners by the mayors of 
Yokohama and Tokyo, and by Prince Tokogawa, of one of the old Shogun 
families, and the head of the Japanese Red Cross. Prince Kanin, of the 
royal family, entertained us with luncheon. Garden parties were given by 
Baron Mitsui, the Rockefeller of Japan, and by Baron Iwasaki. There was 
the Empress’s tea at the royal Aksaka Detached Palace, supper by the ladies 
of Tokyo, and tea, of course, at Ambassador McGrew’s. One of the most 
interesting parties of all was at the Prime Minister’s Palace. It was a lovely 


[83] 


moonlight night and a gorgeous setting—a most picturesque event with 
some of the delegates from gfty-nine countries simply glittering with orders. 
It looked like a Cecil de Mille film. 

The Japanese are a meticulous people and are always beautifully 
dressed, the ladies in their grey ceremonial kimonas, with gay obis, and 
the men in European clothes, which they quickly doff for their own more 
comfortable clothing as soon as they reach their homes. There were usually 
in line at least fifty gentlemen-in-waiting at every event to receive us, as 
well as dozens of charming women,—the old Damio idea, I suppose. 

Our visit was all too short, but we managed a week-end at both Nikko 
and Miyonoshita, where the brilliant maples and the aspens in their fall 
coloring fairly dazzled us with their gorgeousness. As in almost every part 
of Japan, we met hundreds of pilgrims on their way to the shrines. We 
were so struck by the hundreds of school children too, that were conducted 
by teachers to shrines and museums, or just to beauty spots, to drink in 
the perfection of a lovely country scene, or a cherry tree in full blossom. 
They still believe that cultivation of a sense of beauty is an important part 
of a child’s training. Japan has many things, I think, to give us, and her 
training of her young people for the Junior Red Cross is an achievement of 
which they can well be proud. One whole large building in Tokyo is 
given over to showing the development of their work, their health and 
child welfare service, their Junior Red Cross, and all the various branches. 
The Junior Red Cross had a rally in Hibiya Park, an open air amphi¬ 
theatre, where thousands of school children from all over Japan gathered. 
One could not doubt the genuineness of their welcome. All the eager 
little brown hands stretched out in greeting after the ceremonies, and the 
presentation of their gifts which had been brought by the school children 
of Japan. When they sang their national Red Cross song, and waved their 
banners, we all thought it one of the most moving events, and I am sure 
there were not many dry eyes. 

Two weeks is a short time for Japan, but going by train, as we did, 
across country by day, we were impressed not only by the beauty of the 
country, the charm of its little towns and villages, and the industry of its 

[84] 


people, but by their never failing courtesy, not only to us, but to each 
other. Kyoto is the heart of the old cultural part of Japan, and Nara, with 
its temples, as fascinating as ever. It is so remote and so old-world, and 
full of charm. Myajima is truly the 'gem of the Inland Sea”. But time 
pressed, and we sailed by a little Japanese boat to Tientsin; thence by train 
to Pekin, arriving very late at night. 

Early November is a good time to be in Pekin, almost cloudless skies 
and not yet too cold. There we found some old and some new friends, 
and many of the delegates who by this time we had begun to feel were 
real friends. Pekin is to me the most interesting city in the world. Mother 
too loved it, and there on the eighth of November, 1934, did I receive the 
cable telling us of her passing. I cannot now write of that except to say 
that the whole world changed, as though a light were gone out. 

We decided to continue our trip, for I could not bear the thought of 
coming home and not finding Mother here. The next day I went out to 
the Temple of Eleaven, which she had so loved; but after that was obliged 
to go to the Rockefeller, or Pekin Union Medical College, a very fine and 
up-to-date college hospital, where I had every care and attention. Everyone 
was most kind to us, and we had already made some very interesting con¬ 
tacts, spending one day at Yen Cheng University, and one day with Dr. and 
Mrs. Pettus, at the Modern Language School, as well as with Dr. Fong, 
who is doing a marvelous piece of work among the drug addicts of Pekin. 
We did most of the usual sights, and William and Katharine and the 
Davidsons had a wonderful day on the Great Wall, the wall which, as 
they say, kept the Chinese in, but never kept the foreigners out; a visit to 
some of the temples, and a lovely day at the Summer Palace are just a few 
of the high spots. 

Shanghai we found depressing, and were glad to embark again for 
Hongkong, where we spent five busy days, repacking and sending a lot 
of our stuff off, and getting ourselves in travelling form again. The others 
went to Canton for a day and a night, while Mrs. John Clark, whom we 
had met, very kindly entertained me. But it was getting terribly cold and 
we were very glad to sail for Manila, where we spent five days, shopping 


[85] 


in the native markets and visiting the Red Cross and the schools, which 
were conducting Christmas exercises similar to our own. The children are 
taught English, but usually by native teachers whose accent leaves much 

to be desired. 

Then away again to the Island of Bali, driving from Boeleling to Den 
Passar. We hired a car with an excellent native driver, and kept it all 
during the two weeks there—it is too hot to walk even a block. It is about 
forty miles through the most fertile, beautiful, hilly country, with rice fields 
laid out as if by a landscape artist, terraced sometimes to the tops of small 
hills, and with, it is said, the most perfect irrigation system in the world, 
arranged by the natives by means of giant bamboo conduits. Since rice 
grows all throught the year, the water is so diverted that every farmer 
receives it in turn. Some sections will be harvesting while others will be 
planting, or transplanting—a very intricate and laborious process. The 
Dutch have never interfered with their system, nor do they permit the 
natives to sell their fields. The people are of a very superior type of 
civilization and incredibly picturesque. Accustomed as they are to carrying 
heavy weights on their heads, they swing along with an astounding amount 
of fruit, or rice, or merchandise of any sort. Most of the cooking is done 
along the side of the road, and so one gets a very intimate glimpse of the 
people. Their religion is an integral part of their lives, every household 
of importance has its own shrine in its own compound, and there are over 
thirty thousand shrines on the island. Their burial ceremonies are most 
unique, and enormously expensive; sometimes as many as a dozen burials 
will occur at one ceremony. 

The baptismal ceremony is very elaborate. Katharine Mershon took us 
to one of the little son of a rajah. It was preceded by a lion dance the 
old story of the triumph of good over evil where the dancers literally 
run amuck and stab themselves with krises. The whole ceremony is too 
intricate to describe in detail, but on the ceremonial table, which is graced 
with most charming little rice cakes and dainty little confections, beauti¬ 
fully arranged on tall carved compotes, is also placed a sort of round cake 
on which are arranged bamboo streamers on which are written a dozen 

[ 86 ] 




or more names. These are all set on fire, and the one that lasts longest 
is the name chosen for the child. Up to this time the child has never put 
its feet on the ground, but after being blessed by the priest, he is then 
taken in the arms of his nurse and there touches in turn the four elements 
of fire, earth, air, and water, the water in a little shallow pool in the garden. 
This particular rajah was a very good looking man of about thirty-five. 
This, I believe, was his fourth wife, so he must have been a person of some 
importance. 

We took many beautiful drives over the island, all day excursions with 
Jack and Katharine Mershon, besides being entertained very charmingly 
in their home, which was just on the edge of the sea. Mr. Davidson was 
very ill most of the time we were there and so was unable to enjoy with 
us some of the native dances and the gamelon orchestras, which were a 
feature of the island, strange, weird, and yet beautiful, and like no music 
of any other country. We saw many native dances, which are not so much 
dancing as posturing. They are full of drama, grace and rhythm, and leave 
an indelible impression. 

Java was far less picturesque, except for her temples. The wonderful 
Hindu temple, Bourabadoor, near Djockakarta, long buried and so saved 
from destruction, is one of the finest outside of India, and certainly a 
marvel with its superb carving and stupendous proportions. The rainy 
season was just approaching, and when it rains it certainly rains! This 
rather interfered with our sight-seeing. Batavia is an interesting Dutch and 
Javanese city, with an old and a new part, and a good center for excursions. 
Near it are the famous Buitzenzorg Botanical Gardens, with their cinnamon, 
coffee, camphor, clove and nutmeg trees—-truly the Isles of Spice. It was 
on a holiday, and all were very gay and bright, everyone dressed in his 
gayest sarong, graceful and picturesque. 

We were glad to set sail again by the S.S. "Marnix”, of the Royal Dutch 
Mail, a splendid ship in every way. It was full of Dutch people going 
back to Holland with their children,—two hundred and thirty-five of them, 
in fact, but with their own quarters so that they in no way interfered with 
the adults. We spent nineteen days on shipboard, visiting in turn Singa- 


[87] 


pore, Sumatra, Sabang, and Colombo, finally reaching the Gulf of Aden 
and the Red Sea, arriving at Port Said on January 25; thence to Shepherd’s 
Hotel, Cairo. We spent three wonderful days in Cairo—far too little time 
to see the museum, or its wonders; then on to Luxor and the ^X^lnte^ Palace 
Hotel. There we spent a delightful week visiting the tombs and enjoying 
the wonders of that part of the Nile; back to Cairo for another three mem¬ 
orable days, especially the one at Sakkara; sailing for Genoa where we 
found a very cold reception as there was snow way down on the mountains; 
on to Florence for a week, a week in Rome, a week in Naples. Italy is so 
changed as far as its people are concerned, though its churches and monu¬ 
ments are still impressive and satisfying. But the people looked sad, they 
looked depressed and worried. Hotels and business houses were closing on 
account of economic conditions, taxes were too burdensome, and life under 
a dictatorship has so changed Italy that, for me at least, much of the poetry 

and romance and beauty has forever departed. 

We were not sorry to sail on the 14th of March, 1935, and to feel that 
we were turning our faces toward our own country after six months of 
constant journeying. William had just received a cable telling him of his 
father’s death, so it was all the more necessary to hasten. We arrived in 
New York on March 26th. So ended a never to be forgotten trip around 

the world. 

To go back to Grand Rapids and find Mother not there was one of the 
hardest journeys imaginable; but Junior, with his usual kindness, took me 
in, and I spent a very quiet month with them until we four children could 
get together and arrange the necessary business and the division of Mother s 
personal belongings. The old home was so dear to all of us that it was a 
sad and heartbreaking task; but we each chose the things we loved the 
best, and were most useful to us or our children. The servants and most 
of the friends were remembered with small gifts, which they all seem to 
treasure and value. 

August, 1935, Mary, Byrd and I started for California by way of 
Charlevoix, Wisconsin, and the National Parks, spending almost a month 

en route. 


[88] 


After returning I decided to do the house all over, so as to provide a 
better setting for some of Mother’s lovely old furniture, and am glad now 
that I had the courage to attempt it; but it was almost Christmas before 
it was entirely settled. Kitty came out for the winter, and Junior and his 
family, as well as many eastern friends. The summer was a quiet one in 
which I had much pleasure with the grandchildren and in writing these 
reminiscences. 


C89] 


CHAPTER ELEVEN 


TO THE HOME OF MY ANCESTORS 

f \ pilgrimage through the country of my forebears, in the fall of 
jCjfa 11937, was richly rewarded by new material, and by the verifica- 
r I tion of dates and events. Windsor, the first known home of the 
/ original John Bissell, presents a charming picture to-day, with its 

' JL Palisado, or green, its elms, its lovely old church and quiet bury¬ 
ing ground beside it, where rests John Bissell. The Fyler House, which is 
now the home of the ^CTndsor Historical Society, contains the old Bissell 
tavern sign, and the toll board, much worn by the passing of wagon wheels, 
on which are printed the rates for the ferry. The ferry bell unfortunately 
was removed a few years ago. 

On September 25, 1937, in Litchfield, I attended the fifth annual re¬ 
union of the descendants of Captain John Bissell, held in the historic First 
Congregational Church, which has been restored to its former glory. The 
meeting was held in Litchfield, instead of ^CTndsor, as is customary, in 
honor of Captain Zebulon Bissell, Revolutionary war hero. 

Pelham St. George Bissell, President Justice of the Municipal Court 
of the City of New York, and also president of the Bissell Association, said 

’'The Bissell family has ceased to be a family, but the America 
of the Americans. We represent not only the State, but 
America.” 

Ninety-four descendants from all parts of the country were present, repre¬ 
senting almost every walk in life. There was a feeling of good fellowship, 
and a keen interest in everything pertaining to the family. Regional officers 
were elected, and it devolved upon them to secure additional information 
in their own sections of the country. I was appointed to this office for 
California and the Pacific Coast. The next meeting will be held at Windsor 

the second Saturday after Labor Day, 1938. 

To me, Litchfield seems the most beautiful village in America, with 
its lovely old manorial houses in perfect preservation, its trim lawns and 
village green with gorgeous elms, and stately church. Here Lyman Beecher 

[90] 



preached those thundering temperance sermons (1811-1826) which roused 
all America. There is the monument to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry 
Ward Beecher, who were born in the old Beecher house. There are to be 
found also the Tapping Reeve house and the little cottage where the first 
law school in America was founded. It presents quite a contrast to the 
old days when one of the younger generation was lost in the high rushes 
which bordered the nearby swamp lands. 

The village has banned any change in the general appearance of the 
town, nor are filling stations or moving picture theatres allowed,—not 
even a change in the facade of the bank building! The old red jail, with 
its iron bars, still stands on the village green, and the original Whipping 
Post Elm, which was used as late as 1815. Many of the houses are occupied 
by descendants of the original settlers. 

The Bissells were all farmers. Many of them are still living on lands 
owned by their ancestors—a truly noble heritage. 

A great desire to see Bowe Hill and Mt. Vision, which Grandmother 
Lydia so loved, took me there on a late summer afternoon at sunset; a 
beautiful scene, but quite different from what my childish imagination had 
pictured. The house where her children must have been born and brought 
up is probably the old red house on the brow of the hill, of which she 
always spoke, and next to the Romeo Brooks, but it could not be perfectly 
identified. Mt. Vision is still a tiny little hamlet, but the old cemetery is 
fairly well kept and still contains the graves of our great-grandparents, 
Harvey, and his wife, Miriam, and Isaac III, and Seth H. Bissell. 

Oneonta is a flourishing little town, and there I met Clara and Anna 
Bunn, and photographed the graves of their grandfather and grandmother, 
as well as other family connections. 

A visit to Penn Yan and Bath yielded some information and some inter¬ 
esting photographs of the old McCay and Ellsworth burial plots. 

We continued our motor trip through the lovely New England country, 
with its magnificent fall coloring, and I again visited Ada Stebbins in 
Duxbury, and her daughter, Dorothy, who lives in Saybrook, Connecticut, 
in an old house just opposite the John Mason home. 


[911 


A flying visit to New York, two weeks in Grand Rapids with the family 
and old friends, returning to Pasadena on a bright Thanksgiving morn¬ 
ing, with William and Katharine and Aunt Kitty. With the children to 
greet us, a bountiful dinner prepared, and with a fair degree of health 
and security, I felt that I should render thanks to my forebears and to the 
Lord, for truly the lines of my life have fallen in pleasant places. 

As this story draws to its close, I think of my many wonderful friends 
and companions who have deeply influenced my life, some gone, but 
some remaining who lighten and brighten the way. There is Kitty, who is 
still with me, and Ethel in DePere, who have been members of Mother’s 
or my household for many years, for whose companionship I am deeply 
grateful. Especially is there my dear daughter-in-law, Katharine, and her 
children, Richard, Katharine, Anne and Louisa Nevins, as well as William, 
Sabra and Dorothy. There are my lovely sisters-in-law, Olive, Marjorie 
and Clara; my nephews and nieces, and my cousins—all dear to me. There 
are my kinsmen, Bertha L. Dickinson and Eleanor Bissell, as well as my 
faithful secretary, Marion Gerhart, without whose devoted help this book 
would never have been finished. To my loyal household my thanks; and 
to my relations and to those unseen friends, whose name is legion, I offer 
my grateful appreciation and affection. 

"The mind has a thousand eyes, 

And the heart hut one; 

Yet the light of the whole life dies 
When love is done ” 1 


i Francis W. Bourdillon, "Light”. 


[92] 




Mother’s namesake, Ann Sutherland Bissell, as she appeared when 
PRESENTED AT THE COURT OF ST. JAMES, 1934 

















CONCLUSION 


"And now in conclusion, I may truly say, with valiant 
Captain John Mason: T wish (this task) had fallen into 
better hands, that might have performed it to the life. I 
shall only draw the curtain and open my little casement, 
that so others, of larger hearts and abilities may let in a 
bigger light; that so at least some small glimmering may be 
left to posterity what difficulties and obstructions their 
forefathers met with in first settling these desert parts of 
America! 

"Wishing, therefore, that my readers may find as much of 
profit and pleasure in perusing these pages as I have found 
in writing them, I remain, 

Their friend and servant,” 1 

ANNA BISSELL McCAY. 


'S tiles, (f History of Ancient Windsor”. 

[93] 






































































































































































'pdSSdJCf XdCj JJPJ pup </ ri <niA J ( U<7*[S[tlf-S .VC7UJ [SL+r 



s 













GENEALOGY 


BISSELL RECORDS 

I. JOHN BISSELL, emigrant ancestor 
b. in England, 1591 

came to Windsor, Connecticut, 1640 
m. Mary Drake 
d. October 3, 1677 

Children: (ii) 

II. Mary m. Jacob Drake 
John m. Isabel Mason 
THOMAS (Lieut.) m. Abigail Moore 
Samuel m. Abigail Holcomb 
Nathaniel m. Mindwell Moore 
Joyce m. Samuel Pinney 

LIEUT. THOMAS BISSELL 
b. 1630 

m. October 11, 1655, Abigail Moore 

b. 1639 
d. 1686 

d. 1689 

Children: (ill) 


III. Thomas 
Abigail 
John 
Joseph 
Elizabeth 
Benjamin 
Sarah 
Ephraim 
Esther 
ISAAC 
Luke 

LIEUT. ISAAC BISSELL I 
b. 1682 

[95] 


m. May 2, 1706, Elizabeth Osborne 

settled in Litchfield, Conn., where both he and his wife 
died and are buried in the West Cemetery. 

d. 

Children: (iv) 


IV. Elizabeth 
ISAAC II 
Abigail 
Sarah 

fjoel, 1714—"Jan. ye 15th, A.D. 1757—age 43” 

Benjamin 

Roger 

George 

Joseph 

Zebulon 

ISAAC BISSELL II 
b. 1709 

m. 1746, Sarah Stone 
d. 1777, in Windsor, Conn. 

children (v) 

V. ISAAC III 
Sarah 
Luther 
Calvin 
Olive 

fArchelaus—”1758—Apr. 26, 1846, age 88 
and Mary 

1762—Oct. 12, 1826, age 64” 

ISAAC BISSELL III 
b. 1747 

m. December 13, 1770, Alathea (Abiatha) Way 
moved in 1799 to Bowe Hill, Otsego Co., N. Y. 
d. 1823, in Hartwick, N. Y. 
children: (vi) 


f Gravestones: West Burying Ground, Litchfield. 

C96] 



VI. John 

Luther—b. Apr. 25, 1773; m. Hannah Shepherd 
*Orange—b. Feb. 12, 1775; m. Sally Guild; d. Apr. 17, 1841 
Levi 
Sally 

* HARVEY 
Benjamin 

Norman—b. Jan. 3, 1784 

Peggy 

Molly 

Isaac IV—b. Jan. 23, 1792; m. Sept. 11, 1817, Martha Baker 
d. Oct. 13, 1841. 

HARVEY BISSELL 
b. July 23, 1780, in Canaan, Conn, 
m. Miriam Holcomb (see Holcomb record page 114 ) 
b. Jan. 12, 1780 
d. Sept. 19, 1868, age 89 
d. April 20, 1852, in Hartwick, N. Y. 

Both Harvey and Miriam, his wife, are buried in Mt. 
Vision Cemetery, Hartwick, N. Y. 

children: (vn) 

VII. Elvira 

b. December 22, 1799 
m. Elisha Lyon 
d. October 12, 1885 

ALPHEUS 
Frederick Holcomb 
b. April 16, 1803 

Almira 
b.1808 

m. William Robinson 
d. December 12, 1863 


*''Residents of Litchfield, 1720-1800” Woodruff. 

[97] 




Mattison ) . . 

Seth } tWmS 
b. May 23, 1817 

Mattison—m. October 4, 1840, Delinda Delano Cline 
d. June 28, 1893 
Seth—m. 1st. Adeliza Gillette 
2nd, Helen Pickens 
d. March 9, 1893. 

ALPHEUS BISSELL 

b. January 24, 1801, in Canaan, Conn, 
m. May 14, 1824, Lydia Brooks (see page 116) 

b. July 14, 1803, in Pittsfield, Mass, 
d. November 10, 1893, Grand Rapids, 
d. February 9, 1897, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Children (vm) 

VIII. Harvey Lyman 
b. 1826 

m. Lucy Korilla (1826-1906) 
d. 1901 

Ann Eliza 
b.1827 

m. February, 1850, William Henry Harvey 
d. December 25, 1916. 

Mary Lucilla 
b.1837 

d. May 31,1902, in Dansville, N. Y. 

MELVILLE REUBEN BISSELL 

b. September 25, 1843, in Hartwick, N. Y. 

m. November 29, 1865, Anna Sutherland, of DePere, Wisconsin 
(see Sutherland record, page 120) 

b. December 2,1846 
d. November 8, 1934 
d. March 9, 1889, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Children (ix) 


[981 


IX. ANNA DOTELLE (DOROTHY) 

Lily May (Matie) 

b. May 31,1871 
d. November 20, 1878 
Melville Reuben, Jr. 

Harvey Sutherland 
Irving Joy 

ANNA DOTELLE (DOROTHY) BISSELL 
b. December 11, 1868 
m. April 23,1890, William Stewart McCay 
(see McCay record page 131) 

One son: (x) 

X. WILLIAM SUTHERLAND McCAY 

b. February 16, 1900 

m. April 26, 1930, Katharine Tilt, Pasadena, California 

b. September 8, 1895 

Children: (xi) 

XI. Sabra Ellsworth McCay 

b. September 8, 1931 
Dorothy Bissell McCay 
b. March 7, 1936 

IX. MELVILLE REUBEN BISSELL, JR. 

b. April 7, 1882, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

m. April 29, 1907, Olive E. Bulkeley (b. Jan. 21, 1884) 

daughter of William Franklin Bulkeley (June 
20, 1846—”April 3, 1889) of Dansville, New 
York; a naval officer and graduate of Annapo¬ 
lis; and Abbie M. Bulkeley, his wife, (Novem¬ 
ber 29, 1850—December 18, 1930) of Lock- 
port, New York. 

Children: (x) Barbara 

Ann Sutherland 
Eleanor 


[ 99 ] 


X. Barbara Bissell 

b. February 8, 1910 

m. June 17, 1930, Robert R. McReynolds, of Grand Rapids, son of 

of Harriet Isabel and Benjamin Franklin 
McReynolds. 

One child: (xi) 

Barbara Bissell McReynolds 
b. June 4, 1933. 

Ann Sutherland Bissell 

b. May 17, 1912, Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Eleanor Bissell 

b. May 3, 1915, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

m. January 4,1935,Harold William Sears, Jr., son of Kate Barnard 

(Goodman) and Harold William Sears. 

Children: (xi) 

Peter McGregor Sears 
b. November 21, 1935 

Tamsen Eldridge Sears 
b. January 15, 1938 

IX. HARVEY SUTHERLAND BISSELL 
b. October 22, 1884 

m. December 19, 1913, Marjorie Janet McLachlan, Pasadena, 

daughter of Minnie Jones and James 
McLachlan. James McLachlan was born 
in Scotland August 1, 1852, married 
December 26, 1887, Minnie Josephine 
Jones, (b. April 2, 1861, Groton, N. Y. 
—d. Jan. 30, 1907.) 

Children: Anita Jean, b. Feb. 28, 1889 
Gladys Katharine, b. July 18, 1891 
Marjorie Janet, b. Feb. 20, 1895 
James Douglas, b. June 2, 1896 

Children: (x) 


[ 100 ] 


X. Dorothy Ann 

b. December 2, 1915 

Marjorie Jean 
b. July 22, 1918 
d. August 7, 1924 

James McLachlan 
b. April 10, 1922 
d. May 3, 1926 

Caroline 

b. October 8, 1923 
d. October 10, 1923 

Ann Sutherland 
b. October 2, 1926 

James McLachlan 
b. February 16, 1931 

IX. IRVING JOY BISSELL (son of Melville Reuben [VIII]) 
b. January 12, 1888, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 
m. June, 1909, (1st) Loraine Hart Webber, daughter of Charles 

and Grace Webber of Lockport, New York, 
b. September 14, 1890 
d. April 16, 1918. 

Children: (x) 

Charles Webber Bissell 
Wadsworth Bissell 

m. May 8, 1920, Clara Leland Olds, born April 18, 1896, in Am¬ 
herst, Massachusetts, the daughter of Marion 
Adams Olds (b. 1864, Boston, Mass.) and 
George D. Olds (b. 1853, in Brockport, N. Y., 
m. Marion Adams in 1886; d. 1929.) 

Children: (x) 

Melville, 3rd. 

John Daniel. 


[ 101 ] 


X. CHARLES WEBBER BISSELL (son of Irving Joy Bissell [IX]) 
b. April 24, 1911 

m. March 25, 1933, Mary Fuller Matheson, daughter of Charles 

and Grace Fuller Matheson, of Grand 
Rapids, Michigan, 
b. August 3,1913 

Children: (xi) 

Charles Webber Bissell, Jr. 
b. November 25, 1933 
d. February 20, 1934 

William Fuller Bissell 
b. October 20, 1935 

WADSWORTH BISSELL (son of Irving Joy Bissell [IX]) 
b. November 6,1913, Grand Rapids, Michigan 
m. May 9, 1936, Hillary Rarden, b. December 24, 1912, daughter 

of Dr. and Mrs. W. L. Rarden of Greenville, 
Michigan. 

Children (xi) 

Brereton Wadsworth Bissell 

b. November 3, 1937, in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Melville Bissell, 3rd (son of Irving Joy Bissell [IX]) 
b. February 28, 1921, in Grand Rapids, Michigan 

John Daniel Bissell (son of Irving Joy Bissell [IX]) 
b. May 9, 1925, in Grand Rapids, Michigan 


[ 102 ] 


VII. ALPHEUS BISSELL (son of Harvey Bissell [VI]) 

m. May 14, 1824, Lydia Brooks of Pittsfield, Mass, 
d. February 9, 1897 

VIII. ANN ELIZA BISSELL 

m. 1827 

m. William Henry Harvey, February, 1850 
d. December 25, 1916. 

IX. WALTER JUSTIS HARVEY 

b. December 16, 1852 

m. 1st (1 son, Ray Harvey) 

2nd, May C. Mathews (b. May 28, 1873) 
d. January 12, 1938 

Emma Irene 
b—1856 
d. April 22,1915 

X. RAY HARVEY 


[ 103 ] 



VI. HARVEY BISSELL (1780-1852) 

m. Miriam Holcomb 

VII. SETH H. BISSELL (son of Harvey [VI]) 

b. May 13,1817, Milford, N. Y. 
m. (1) Adeliza Gillette 
b. 1823 

d. November 7, 1856 
(2) Helen Pickens 
d. March 9, 1893 

VIII. FREDERICK ARTHUR BISSELL (son of Seth and Adeliza Bissell) 

b. October 26,1847 
m. Ida Clara Doty 

b. April 12, 1856 
d. June 26,1900 
d. November 21, 1915 

IX. JOSEPH FLOYD BISSELL (son of Frederick Arthur [VIII]) 

b. March 12, 1879 

m. October 14, 1903, Ida Belle Gingher 

b. October 22, 1884 

d. June 9, 1915 

X. DOROTHY IDA BISSELL (daughter of Joseph Floyd Bissell [IX]) 

b. September 13, 1905 

m. July 27, 1924, Reginald Fremont Inwood 
Child: (xi) 

Dorothy Jeanette Inwood 
b. April 11, 1926 

EUNICE ELEANOR BISSELL (daughter of Joseph Floyd Bissell 
b. August 22, 1907 

m. June 10, 1933, Theodore Dinsmoor Bigger, Long Beach, Calif. 
Child: (xi) 

William Dinsmoor Bigger 
b. May 21, 1935 


C104] 


VI. Harvey Bissell (1780-1852) 
m. Miriam Holcomb 


VII. Elvira* 

b. December 22, 1799 
m.—Elisha Lyon 
d. October 12, 1885 
Children: 

Alonzo 

Sally 

Mary 

VIII. Sally Lyon 

b. 

m. Hiram Sargeant 
Daughter 

IX......... 

b. 

m.—Opal 

9 Maple Street, Oneonta, N. Y. 


* Gravestone, Mt. Vision Cemetery, Hartwick, N. Y. 

[105] 




VI. Harvey Bissell (1780-1852) 
m. Miriam Holcomb 

VII. Frederick Holcomb Bissell 

b. February 16, 1803 

VIII. Theron Bissell 

b. 

m.—Harriet — 
d.—aged 73 

Children: (ix) Carrie 

Katharine (Kate) 
Edwin A. 


IX. Carrie 
b. 

m.—Cassius Mathewson, Hartwick, N. Y. 

Kate 

b. 

m.—Delos Robinson 
Edwin A., Burlington, Vt. 


[ 106 ] 


VI. Harvey Bissell (1780-1852) 
m. Miriam Holcomb 

twin sons—Mattison H. and Seth H. Bissell 

VII. Mattison H. Bissell 

b. May 23, 1817 

m. October 4, 1840, Delinda Delano Cline (Nov. 4, 1819-May 4, 
1887) daughter of Roxana Delano, 
d. June 28, 1893 

Children: Ann Janette and Frederick A. Bissell 

VIII. *Ann Janette Bissell 

b. January 10, 1842 

m. October, 1867, Charles E. Bunn (November 30, 1841—June 
30, 1894) of Hartwick, N. Y., son of William and Betsy Bunn 
d. March 26, 1913 

1 Frederick A. Bissell 
b. April 11, 1847 

m. Josephine Wets ell 1 (October 26, 1847—September 6, 1876.) 
d. November 21, 1903 

IX. Children of Ann Janette (Bissell) and Charles E. Bunn: 

Anna D. Bunn 
b. 1870 
Clara P. Bunn 
b. 1873 
Arthur Bunn 


^Gravestones: Oneonta, N. Y. 


[ 107 ] 



VII. Seth H. Bissell 

b. May 23, 1817 

m. 1st, Adeliza Gillette (1823—November 7, 1856) \ 
2nd, Helen Pickens 
d. March 9, 1893 
Children: Laverne 
b. 1856 

d. January 15, 1861, age 5 years 
Clarissa 


VIII. Clarissa Bissell- 
b. 1845 

m. Henry C. Bunn 
d. November 5, 1873 
Children: Laverne 
Will H. 

IX. Laverne C. Bunn 

b. December 9, 1868 
d. January 18, 1892 


'Gravestones, Mt. Vision Cemetery, Hartwick, N. Y. , 

2 "Let me die the death of the victorious, and let my last day be like his. 

[ 108 ] 



V. Isaac 3rd, (1747-1823) 

m. Abiatha (Alathea) Way 

VI. Orange Bissell 

b. February 12, 1775 
m. January 3, 1796, Sally Guild 

b. Milton, Litchfield Co., Conn. 

July 16, 1777 
d. Milford, New York 
July 13, 1840 

d. April 7, 1841 
Children: (vn) 

VII. Russell 

Emelius (1815—September 29, 1849) 

LAURA 

Julia 

Emily 

Sally 

Mary Sophronia (Weller) (2nd marriage, Lyman Brooks) 

Charles 

Lucius 

Jeremiah Guild 

LAURA BISSELL 
b. 

m.—Lyman Brooks 
d. 

Children: (vra) 

VIII. Edwin Calvin Brooks 

b. 1827, Hartwick, N. Y. 
m.—Helen Keyes (1824-1913) 

Children: (ix) 

Leroy Justus Brooks 

Justus Brooks 

b. 

d.—Salem, Ohio 


[ 109 ] 


IX. Leroy Justus Brooks (Dr.) 
b. 1850 

in.—Adella Pauline Westcott (1849-1907) 
d. 1900 
Children: (x) 

X. Pauline Westcott Brooks (daughter of Leroy and Adella Brooks 

b.—1889 t IX ]) 

m —W. F. McClelland, Mandan, North Dakota 

Children: (xi) 

XI. William Fred McClelland, Jr. 

b. September 14, 1918 

Keith Brooks McClelland 
b. May 31, 1923 

Warren Fielding McClelland 
b. October 4, 1928 


[ 110 ] 



















Bertha Ellen Bissell Lovewell 

m. George Lyman Dickinson, (descendant of Amherst , Massachusetts , 
Dickinsons; see page 18) September 3, 1903. 

Named for mother s sister, Ellen Bissell (Cutler) 

Mother, Margaret Lois Bissell, daughter 

of Cyrus Bissell; m. Amanda Case, direct 
descendant of 

I. John Bissell 

II. John (eldest son) 

III. Daniel 

IV. Ezekiel 

V. Ezekiel 

VI. Cyrus 

VII. Margaret Lois 

VIII. Bertha Ellen Bissell Lovewell 


[ 112 ] 


HOLCOMB 


I. THOMAS HOLCOMB (emigrant ancestor) 
b. 1601, in England 

came to America in the "Mary and John" 
m. Elizabeth Ferguson 
d. September 7, 1657, in Windsor, Conn. 

II. JOSHUA HOLCOMB I 
b. September 7, 1640 
baptised September 27, 1640 
m. Ruth Sherwood on June 4, 1663 
d. December 1, 1690, in Simsbury, Conn. 

III. JOSHUA HOLCOMB II 

b. September 18, 1672 

m. Mary Terry, daughter of Elizabeth (Wadsworth) and John 
Terry, of Simsbury, 
d. February 10, 1727. 

IV. DAVID HOLCOMB 

b. July 12, 1713 
baptised July 26, 1713 
m. 1st, Mary Slater on December 24, 1735 
2nd, Philura Hollenbeck in 1761 
d.—17., in Canaan, Conn. 

V. NOAH HOLCOMB 

b. August 12, 1750 

m. February 21, 1771, Hannah Marsh, who was born June 14, 
1751, the daughter of James and Mary Marsh 
d. 

Children: Noah, b. November 3 ,1773 
Timothy, b. October 5, 1776 
Mary, b. March 14, 1778 
MIRIAM, b. January 12, 1780 
Olive, b. July 25, 1781 
Titus, b. April 21, 1783 
Rone, b. January 24, 1785 
Hannah, b. December 31, 1788 
Miles (or Milo) b. March 12, 1793 

[ 113 ] 



VI. MIRIAM HOLCOMB 

b ♦January 12, 1780, in Falls Village, Canaan, Conn, 
m Harvey Bissell (see Bissell records, VI generation, page 97) 
d. fSeptember 19, 1868 —buried in Mt. Vision Cemetery, Hart- 

wick, N. Y.) 


"Entered by ye towne clerk” . 

*Vol. A, page 36, Old Court Records, Falls Village, Canaan, Connecticut. 

jTombstone, Mt. Vision Cemetery. 


[ 114 ] 



BROOKS 


I. HENRY BROOKS, Emigrant Ancestor 
b. in England 

Came from Cheshire, England, and settled in Wallingford, 
Connecticut about 1660. 
m. Hannah Pattie Blakeslee 
d. 1713 
Children: (n) 

II. LT. THOMAS BROOKS 

b. March 27, 1679 

m. Martha Hotchkiss March 25, 1702 
d. July 20, 1732 

III. LT. THOMAS BROOKS, JR. 

b. February 14, 1706 
m. 1st, July 6, 1727, Elizabeth Bristol 
2nd, March 20, 1749 
d. November 1, 1773 

IV. SAMUEL BROOKS 

b. April 4, 1738, Cheshire, Conn, 
m. January 10, 1760, Ruth Doolittle 
d. 

Children: (v) Reuben 


John 


V. REUBEN BROOKS 
b. October 19, 1763 

m. 1st, November 18, 1784, Rocksa Pritchard (d. 1808) 
2nd, Esther Clark 
d. 

Children of Reuben and Rocksa Pritchard Brooks: (vi) 


Rocksa 

Reuben 

Lyman 


Asabel 

Manna 

LYDIA 

Calvin 


Lydia (d. infant) 


[ 115 ] 


Children of Reuben and Esther Clark Brooks: (vi) 


Otis 

Henry 

James 

Sophie 

Samuel Doolittle 
Horatio 

VI. LYDIA BROOKS 


Thomas L. 

Sarah 

Reuben 

Chauncey 

2 who died in infancy 


Bis sell records, page 98) 


b. July 4, 1803 

m. May 14, 1824, Alpheus Bissell (see 
d. November 10, 1893 


[ 116 ] 


Putnam Family Record 














































































SUTHERLAND 
CHARLES SUTHERLAND: 

Bom in Scotland. At one time in 42nd Highland Infantry; father of 

I. CHARLES SUTHERLAND 

b .February 13, 1786, in Shelbourne Co., Nova Scotia 
m.—TamOr Traves (b. October 4, 1783—d. January 12, 1853), 
daughter of Nathaniel Traves 
d. June 13, 1861 
Children: (n) 

II. Nancy Sutherland 

b. October 21, 1809 
WILLIAM 
b. October 27, 1811 

m. December, 1836, Eleanor Putnam, daughter of William 

Putnam (b. May 8, 1787) and Eleanor 
Hendry (b. October 31, 1790), who 
were married November 3, 1808. 
Eleanor Putnam Sutherland was 
b. January 15, 1817 
d. June 20, 1853 

d. January, 1907 
Children: (ill) 

James J. (see page 120) 

Eliza 

Fannie 

William (see page 120 ) 

LYDIA ANN (see page 120 ) 

William Sutherland’s second marriage, November 8, 1853, was 
with Elizabeth Redmond. Their children were: (hi) 

Franklin Thompson 
Eleanor 

Clara May (Callie) 

Charles Andrew 
Hattie Belle (Kitty) 

Frederick Spolford 
George 

Melville Reuben 
Arthur 

(see page 121 ) 

U17] 


Eliza (daughter of Charles Sutherland [I]) 
b. November 9, 1813 
m. James Perrin 

d. 1878 

Nathaniel 

b. November 24, 1815 
d. March 3,1822 

b. November 21, 1818, Argyle, Shelbourne Co., Nova Scotia 
m. Mehitable Putnam (see Putnam records, page 128) 

Charles 

b. May 23, 1820 

d.—1906, River John, Nova Scotia 

Nathaniel (2nd) 
b. October 26, 1822 
d. Drowned at sea off Cape Sable 

Abigail 

b. December 18, 1824 
m.—Johnson 

"Abigail S. Johnson had a son, Jacob Johnson (III) ot Halifax, 
a collector of pottery. He married a superior English (or 
possibly Canadian) lady,’ and they had a son, Clifford Johnson 
(IV), who was gassed in the World War and later went to 
Jacksonville, Florida, where he died.” (letter from Frances 
Sutherland ). They also had a son, (Capt.) Charles Johnson 
(IV), and a daughter, Sarah Johnson (IV), who married 
Archibald McKenzie, of Montreal. The son, Jacob, (III) made 
a record of the Putnam family. 


[ 118 ] 


Jacob 

b. August 7, 1826 
d.—1886, in Vancouver 

Nelson 

b. December 26, 1829 
m. 

d.—in Chicago 
Children: (hi) 

Ernest 

Eva 

d. in River John in 1936 
Ada 
b. 

m.— Stearns 
Children: (iv) 
Newman 
Estelle 


II. Deborah 

b. February 25, 1832 
m.-—Hamilton 


[1191 


III. James J. Sutherland (son of William Sutherland [II]) 
b. November 15, 1838, River John, Nova Scotia 
d. July 9, 1899, at Hot Springs, South Dakota 

"Had been a resident of Black Hills for many years." 

Eliza (daughter of William Sutherland [II]) 
b. November, 1840 

William (son of William Sutherland [II]) 
b. September 29, 1844 

m. Emily Hammarskold, of Memphis, Tenn., of Swedish ancestry; 
a great musician, and a Catholic. 

d. . . - 

•’Was assistant to Dr. A. K. Taylor, Memphis, during the yel¬ 
low fever epidemic and died of the disease when the epidemic 
had nearly run its course_After William’s death grand¬ 

father sent her money to come on to DePere to make her home. 
She brought her infant son. She belonged to a wealthy family, 
but the war had left them destitute. She resided in DePere 
until her death, which was preceded by two or three years by 
the death of her son.” ( Letter from Mrs. Franklin Sutherland, 

October 11, 1936) 

LYDIA ANN 
b. December 2, 1846 

m. November 29, 1865, Melville Reuben Bissell (see Bissell 

records, page 98) 

d. November 8, 1934 
Fanny 

b. September, 1842 
m.—George Wilkinson 

d. 

One son: (iv) 

William Wilkinson, living in Chicago. 


[ 120 ] 


III. Children of William Sutherland and Elizabeth Redmond: 

Franklin Thompson Sutherland 

b. September 2, 1854, DePere, Wisconsin, 
m. November 28, 1899, Frances Susan Livingstone 

b. February 10, 1872, LaCrosse, Wise. 
Lives in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Ella (see page 123) 
b. April 4, 1856 
d. November 22, 1909 

Clara May (Callie) 
b. May 12, 1858 
d. April 11,1890 

Charles (see page 124 ) 
b. February 12, I860 
d. November 2, 1916 

Hattie Belle (Kitty) (see page 123) 
b. January 15, 1863 

m. October 12, 1882, Timothy Dwight Smith 

Frederick Spofford (see page 126) 
b. May 19, 1866 

m. August 25, 1899, Emma Frances Baker, at Butte, Mont, 
d. September 23, 1926 

Melville 

b. February 9 1869 
d.—1883 

George 

b. May 16 1865 
d. an infant 

Elmer Arthur 
b. August 6, 1873 
d. November 16, 1935 


[ 121 ] 


III. Children of James Sutherland (II) and Mehitable Putnam (II) 

Charlotte (Lottie) 
b. 

Lives in River John 

Ellen 
b.—1852 

m.—1875,—Hichens 
Child: (iv) 

Warren Hichens 
b. 1877 

Hortense Barrett 

b. 

m. July 11, 1905, Dr. Charles Otis Mitchell, in San Francisco 

Children: (iv) 

Charles 

b. September 29, 1906 
specializing in pediatrics 

Frances 

b. August 27,1909 

teacher in San Francisco 


Ann Porter 

b. 

m. August 11, 1917, Stanislaw Maxmilian Neisser, San Jose 
Child: (iv) 

Herbert Wallace Neisser 
b. November 28, 1918 


"Mother was nine years old when Aunt Elly (Eleanor Putnam) and Uncle 
William (William Sutherland, [II]) were married, and she came to River 
John with them. They lived in a log cabin back of Chisholm s place. Uncle 
William had a store (log) and brought home things from sea, and Aunt 
Elbe sold them, and the neighbors were glad to get them.” 

{Letter from Nell Sutherland to her sister, Mrs. Hortense Mitchell). 


[ 122 ] 


III. Eleanor (Ella) Sutherland (daughter of William and Elizabeth 

Redmond Sutherland, [ii]) 

b. April 4, 1856 

m. September, 1875, Eugene Smith 

b. March 14, 1848 
d. January 5, 1911 
d. November 22, 1909 

Children: (iv) Ethel Burton Smith, b. July 17, 1877 

Morris Eugene Smith, b. June 26, 1880 
Callie Sutherland Smith 

IV. Callie Sutherland Smith 

b. February 5,1891 

m. October 10, 1916, Julius Houseman Amberg, Grand Rapids 

b. February 27,1890 
Children (v) Mary Sutherland Amberg 
David Morris Amberg 
Hazel Felice Amberg 

V. Mary Sutherland Amberg 

b. October 10, 1917 
d. April 30, 1931 

David Morris Amberg 
b. January 31, 1920 

Hazel Felice Amberg 
b. April 18, 1925 


[ 123 ] 


Children of William and Elizabeth (Redmond) Sutherland 

III. Charles Andrew Sutherland 

b. February 12, I860, DePere, Wisconsin 
m.—Daisy Johns 
d. November 2, 1916 
Children: (iv) 

IV. William Gordon Sutherland 

b. October 7, 1896, in San Francisco 
Charles Franklin Sutherland 

b. January 1, 1900, in Oakland, California 
m. January 13, 1929, Evelyn Emily Hahn 

b. September 13, 1905 


[ 124 ] 


Children of William and Elizabeth (Redmond) Sutherland 

III. Hattie Belle (Kitty) Sutherland 
b. January 15, 1863 

m. October 12, 1882, Timothy Dwight Smith 

b. November, 1854 
d. May 30, 1917 

Child: (iv) 


IV. Helen Elizabeth Smith 

b. September 23, 1887 
m. April 18, 1911, Gerald McCoy 
Children: (v) 

V. Elizabeth Burton McCoy 

b. July 18, 1914 

m. October 3, 1936, Louis Buell Gascoigne 

Eleanor McCoy 
b. May 17, 1917 

James Sutherland McCoy 
b. July 2, 1920 


[ 125 ] 


Children of William and Elizabeth Redmond Sutherland (II) 

III. Frederick Spofford Sutherland 

b. May 19, 1868, in DePere, Wisconsin 
m August 23, 1899, at Butte, Montant, Emma Frances Baker 

b. October 2, 1873, at 
Edina, Missouri 

d. September 23, 1926 
Children: (iv) 

IV. Frederick George Sutherland 

b. June 21, 1901, at Butte, Montana 
m. October 15, 1927, Mildred Avery Brimmacombe 
Children: (v) 

Frederick George Sutherland, 2nd 

b. January 3, 1930, at Pasadena, California 

Virginia Barbara 
b. September 9, 1937 

Elizabeth Sutherland 

b. October 6, 1905, at Butte, Montana 


[ 126 ] 


PUTNAM 

(Sutherland) 

I. WILLIAM PUTNAM 

b. May 8, 1787, in Stewiack, Nova Scotia 
m. November 3, 1808, Eleanor Hendry 

b. October 31, 1790, Stewiack 
d. 1858, River John 

Moved to Pugwash, Nova Scotia 
d. 1860 
Children: (n) 

II. Mary 

b. October 4, 1814 
d. May 4, 1830 

ELEANOR 
b. January 15, 1817 

m. December, 1836, William Sutherland (see page 117) 
d. June 20, 1853 

Dolly (Patty) 
b. August 9, 1819 
m. Moses Redmond 
d. May 19, 1835 
Children (m) 

Martha 

Dolly 

John D. 

b. January 8, 1821 
m. 

d. Killed in the Battle of Gettysburg, 1862 
Child: (hi) 

Robert 


Lydia 

b. August 14, 1825 

m. (1) December 29, 1842, John Vandenburg 
(2) , Frank Thompson 

d. 


[ 127 ] 


Children: (1) (ill) 

Emcline 

Annie 

Children: (2) (ill) 

Frank Thompson, of Los Angeles, California 

Alexander H. 

b. January 13,1826 
m.—Rosanne Redmond 
d. 

Child: (hi) 

Mattie 

b. 

m.—Julius Carl Renier, Michigan 
Children: (iv) 

Julius 

Carl 

Eva—married a Jordan 


II. Children of William and Eleanor (Hendry) Putnam: 

William 

b. April 3, 1828 

Thomas 

b. June 15, 1830 

Mehitable 

b. October 4, 1831 

m. James Sutherland (see Sutherland records, page 118 ) 

a. 


[ 128 ] 


McCAY 


I. WILLIAM BALDWIN McCAY—Scotland 

II. * WILLIAM WALLACE McCAY 

b. April 9, 1790—probably in Orange County, N. Y. 
m.—Sarah Newbold Barton (March 31, 1790—January 1, 1864) 
daughter of Mary and — Barton. Mary Newbold Barton 
was born June 9, 1776; d. November 20, 1850. (Her second 
marriage was to — Sherwood). 
d. November 11, 1852 
Children: (ill) 

Mary 

Robert (unmarried) 

Thomas Mumford 
Fannie 

WILLIAM BARTON, b. March 18, 1824 
fSarah, b. 1832—d. 1833 
Louise 

Sophie, b. 1834 
Jennie 

Mary (sister Wm. Wallace McCay) 
b. August 25, 1787 
d. October 8, 1852 

III. Mary (daughter of Wm. Wallace McCay, II) 
b. 

m. Henry Harvey Cook 

d. 

Children: (iv) 

Marianna, m. Gen. Clinton McDougal 

Louise, m. M. Rumsey Miller 

Sarah, m. C. F. Ganson 

Fanny, m. John Henry Keene 

Georgianna (Georgie), m. Count Carlos de Heredia 

*Came to Bath, N. Y., as agent for the Pulteney Land Estate cir., 1829; President of 
Board of Trustees of the village, 1842, 1854-58; member and president, Board of 
Trustees, Steuben Co. Bank, 1832. 

"History of Steuben Co., N. Y.” 
f Gravestone, Bath, N. Y., cemetery. 


[1291 



III. Thomas Mumford (son of Wm. Wallace McCay, II) 
b. 

m —Frances Satterlee Dunn, of Elmira, N. Y. 

d. . 

Children: Henry Cook McCay—died young (iv) 

Katharine McCay (see IV) 

Fannie 

m.—Nathaniel Howell 

d. 

Children: Fannie (iv), married Eugene Aucaisne 

Mary (iv) (Queenie), m. Wm. Dwight Gilbert 

Nathaniel (iv) 

WILLIAM BARTON McCAY 
b. March 18, 1824 

m. Sabra Stewart Ellsworth—later Gilbert 
(see Ellsworth Tables, page 132) 
d. October 21, 1868 

Children: William Stewart McCay (see IV) 

Sarah Ellsworth McCay (Tiddy) (see IV) 

fSarah 

b. January 28, 1832 
d. February 2, 1833 
Louise 
b. 

m. Frank M. Bixby 
d. 

Children: Frank (iv) and Louise (iv), m. Howard Durant 

Sophie 
b—1834 

m. Eugene Mulligan 
d—1914 

daughter, Jennie—unmarried 
Jennie 
b. 

m. George Beebe 
d. 

Children: Sophie (iv) 

George (iv) 


f Gravest one, Bath cemetery. 


[ 130 ] 




IV. Katharine McCay (daughter of Thomas Mumford McCay, III) 
b. 

m. H. F. Satterlee 

111 Columbia Street, Elmira, N. Y. 

WILLIAM STEWART McCAY (son of Wm. Barton McCay, III) 
b. February 16, 1857 

m. April 23, 1890, Anna Dotelle (Dorothy) Bissell 
(see Bissell records, page 99) 
d. March 12, 1935 

Son: William Sutherland McCay (v) 

Sarah Ellsworth McCay ( Tiddy ) (daughter of William Barton 
McCay, III) 
b. October 23, 1847 
m. Lindley Murray, New York City 

Children: Grace (v) m. Charles Cowperthwaite 
Lindley Murray, Jr. (v) 

Joseph (v) 

Charles (v) 


V. WILLIAM SUTHERLAND McCAY (son of William Stewart 
McCay, IV) 
b. February 16, 1900 

m. April 26, 1930, Katharine Tilt (born September 8, 1895, 
daughter of Joseph E. Tilt and Stella Bass Tilt). 

Children: Sabra Ellsworth McCay (vi) 

Dorothy Bissell McCay (vi) 


VI. SABRA ELLSWORTH McCAY 
b. September 8, 1931 


(daughter of Wm. Sutherland 
McCay, V) 


DOROTHY BISSELL McCAY 
b. March 7, 1936 


(daughter of Wm. Sutherland 
McCay, V) 


[ 131 ] 


ELLSWORTH 

I. ♦CAPTAIN WANTON ELLSWORTH 

b. March 22, 1764, in Rhode Island 

m. Sabra Stewart, who was born July 20,1763, in Volunton, Conn., 
and died November 22, 1839, in Penn Yan, N. Y. 
d. June 15, 1826, in Penn Yan, N. Y. 

fChildren: (Judge) Samuel Stewart Ellsworth 
FRANKLIN 
John 
Sabra 

II. *Samuel Stewart Ellsworth (Judge) 

fb. October 13, 1790, in Pownai, Vermont 
m.—1834, Elizabeth Creighton (b. August 8, 1803; d. January 
16, 1873) the daughter of Dr. Robert R. Henry, surgeon in 
the Revolutionary Army. Later she married a Vosburg. 
d. June 4, 1868 
FRANKLIN 

fb. March 11, 1795, Pownai, Vermont 
m. date and name unknown—a French Canadian 
d. date unknown 

Child (hi) SABRA STEWART ELLSWORTH 
John 

fb. December 19, 1797, Pownai, Vermont 
m. 

d.—1828, in Penn Yan, N. Y. 

Sabra 

III. SABRA STEWART ELLSWORTH (Gilbert) 

b. 1820 (?) 

m —William Barton McCay (see McCay records, page 130) 
d. July 26, 1907 


* Gravestone, Penn Yan cemetery. 

f Town Records, Pownai, Vt. Bk. 2, L. R. page 8, Bk. 1, Surveys, page 16. 


[ 132 ] 



Children of Samuel S. Ellsworth (n): 

III. Henry 

Samuel Stewart, Jr. 
b. December 25, 1839 
m. December 12, 1866, Hebe Magee 
d. May 6, 1892, in Penn Yan, N. Y. 

Children: Magee Ellsworth 
Duncan Ellsworth 

Mary Elizabeth 

Sabra—daughter of John (n) 

Mary Stewart-daughter of John (n) 
m. Charles H. Ketcham 
d. 

Son: Oliver Ellsworth Ketcham (iv) 

128 Clinton Street, Penn Yan, N. Y. 

IV. Magee Ellsworth 

b. 

m.—Elizabeth Van Rensselaer, daughter Stephen 

d. January., 1921, in Washington, D. C. 

Children: Matilda C. Ellsworth (see V) 

Elizabeth Van Rensselaer Ellsworth 
Duncan Ellsworth 
b. 

m.—-Jane Hutchinson (Killed in auto accident in Italy, 1933) 
d. 

Children: Duncan S. (80 John Street, New York City) 
Florence (see V) 

V. Matilda C. Ellsworth (daughter of J. Magee Ellsworth, IV) 

b. 

m. June, 1937, John B. Morris, New York 

Florence (daughter of Duncan Ellsworth, IV) 
b. 

m. 1st, John H. McFadden, summer of 1923 
(divorced, 1936, in Reno) 

2nd, George Reinhard Seidenburg, of New York 

son of Mrs. George Seidenburg of Bremen, Germany. 


[ 133 ] 



NECROLOGY 


BISSELL 

1. Melville Reuben Bissell (father) 

2. Lydia Brooks Bissell (grandmother) 

3. Alpheus Bissell (grandfather) 

4. Harvey Bissell (Uncle Harvey) 

5. Lucy Korilla Bissell (Aunt Lucy) 

6. Mary Lucilla Bissell (Aunt Mary) 

7. Emma Irene Harvey (cousin) 

8. Ann E. (Bissell) Harvey (aunt) 

9. Mollie, Jamie and Baby Caroline 

10. (Children of Harvey S. Bissell) 

11 . 

12. Ann Sutherland Bissell (mother) 


March 25, 1889 
November 10, 1893 
February 9, 1897 
1889 
1901 
1903 

April 22, 1915 
December 25, 1916 
August 7, 1924 
May 3, 1926 
October 10, 1923 
November 8, 1934 


SUTHERLAND 

1. Eleanor Putnam Sutherland 

2. Melville Sutherland 

3. Clara May Sutherland (Aunt Callie) 

4. Grandmother Sutherland "Betsy” 

5. James Sutherland (Uncle James) 

6. Ellen Sutherland (Aunt Ellie) 

7. Eugene Smith (Uncle Gene) 

8. Grandfather Sutherland 

9. Charles Sutherland (Uncle) 

10. Fred Sutherland 

11. Arthur Sutherland (Uncle) 


June 20, 1853 
1882 
1890 
1892 
1906 
1906 
1908 
1909 
1916 
1926 
1935 


McCAY 

1. Sabra Stewart McCay Gilbert 

2. William Stewart McCay 


July, 1907 
March 12, 1935 


"But who shall so forecast the years 
And find in loss a gain to match? 

Or reach a hand through time to catch 
The far off interest of tears?" 


Alfred, Lord Tennyson 
"In Memoriam” 


[ 134 ] 


BIBLIOGRAPHY 


Barber, Historical Sketches of Connecticut. 

Burke, John, Esq., Encyclopedia of Heraldy, or General Armory of Eng¬ 
land, Scotland and Ireland, London. 

Cutting, Genealogical History of Connecticut. 

Cutting, Genealogical History of Western New York. 

Hinman, Early Puritan Settlers of Connecticut. 

Manwaring, Charles William, Digest of Early Connecticut Probate 
Records. R. S. Peck & Co., Hartford, 1904. 

Marsh, Elizabeth Todd, 50 Puritan Ancestors. 

Mather, Increase, History of Remarkable Providence. 

Stiles, Henry R., Histories and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor. Hart¬ 
ford, 1891. 

Woodruff, Residents of Litchfield, 1720-1800. 

Memorial History of Hartford County. 

New England Taverns. 






INDEX 


Bath, New York, 18, 91. 

Benson, Miss Elizabeth, 51, 63 
Berkey, Julius, 21, 34, 37 
Lou, 34, 36 

Bianchi, Martha Gilbert Dickinson, 18 
BISSELL 

Alpheus, 15, 19, 20, 34, 97, 98 

(Lydia) Ann, 16, 20, 21, 98,117, 120 (see Sutherland') 

Anna Dotelle (Dorothy), 17, 99, 131 

Ann Eliza, 16, 98 

Clara (Olds), 65, 101 

Coat-of-arms, 1, 2 

Cuffbuttons, story of, 3, 4 

Daniel, the Spy, 10 

Ferry, 3,5,6,90 

Harvey 14, 15, 97 

Harvey Lyman, 16, 28, 35, 98 

Harvey Sutherland, 17, 37, 40, 53, 57, 60, 65, 66, 76, 78, 100 

Irving Joy, 17, 42, 62, 63, 65, 67, 101 

Isaac I, 13, 95 

Isaac II, 14,96 

Isaac III, 14,15, 91,96 

Isaac, IV, 14,97 

John, emigrant ancestor, 1- 12, 90, 95 

Lily May (Matie), 17, 28, 29, 32, 35, 99 

Loraine (Webber), 62, 63, 101 

Lucy (Korilla), 16, 28, 35, 98 

Lydia (Brooks), 15,19, 20, 98, 116 

Mary Lucilla, 16, 21, 30, 45, 57, 98 

Marjorie Janet (MacLachlan), 65, 100 

Melville Reuben, 16, 42-46, 98 

Melville Reuben,, Jr., 17, 53, 58, 61, 65, 66, 69, 88, 99 

Miriam Holcomb, 15, 97, 114 

Olive (Bulkeley), 61, 99 

Tavern, 9, 10, 90 

Thomas, 3, 11, 12, 95 

Will of John Bissell, 12 


[ 137 ] 


Block-Aid, 79 
Bowe Hill, 15, 16,91 
BROOKS 

Calvin, 15, 21, 109, 115 
Lydia (see Lydia Brooks Bissell) 

Lyman, 15, 115 
Reuben, 15, 115 
Rocksa, 15, 115 
Samuel, Dr., 15, 115 
Busch Gardens fete, 80 
California trip, 32, 33 
Claypool, Agnes, 61, 65 
deBalenda, Helene, 70 
DePere, Wisconsin, 16, 20, 22, 27 
Dickinson 

Bertha Bissell Lovewell, 31, 117 
Emily, 18 

Dundas, Capt. Henry, 69 
Ellsworth, 18, 50, 132 
Fowler, Mrs. Eldridge M., 61 
Kate, 61 
Gilbert 

Sabra S. Ellsworth McCay (see Ellsworth) 
Susan, 18 

Grand Rapids, 17, 18, 20, 26 
Friends in, 35, 42 
Brick house, 31 
College Avenue, (80), 32 
Crescent Avenue, 28 
Division Street, 28 
Sheldon Street, (85), 32 
Hartwick, New York, 19, 91 
Harvey, Walter Justus, 16, 105 
Horses, 39, 43, 47 
Toass, Mary, 74, 75 

Judd, LTncle Charlie and Aunt Georgie, 35, 52 
Kalamazoo, Michigan, 17, 20 
Litchfield, Connecticut, 13, 14, 90 


[ 138 ] 


McCAY 

Anna Bissell (see Bissell, Anna Dotelle [Dorothy']) 
Dorothy Bissell, 17, 79, 131 
Katharine Tilt, 17, 46, 79, 131 
Sabra Ellsworth [see Ellsworth) 

Sabra Ellsworth (2), 17, 79, 131 
William Baldwin, 17, 129 
William Barton, 18, 129, 130 
William Stewart, 18, 48, 57, 88, 130 
William Sutherland, 17, 54-56, 79-82, 131 
William Wallace, 17, 129 
Mershon, Jack and Katharine, 87 
Murray, Lindley, Sarah, 48, 55, 131 
New York City, 38, 54 
Paris, 60, 75 

Park Avenue Hotel fire, 58 
Philadelphia Centennial, 33 
Pulteney Land Estate, 18 
Purple Heart, order of, 10 
PUTNAM 
Eleanor, 16, 127 
Capt. William, 16, 127 
Red Cross, 26, 49, 69, 81, 83 
Richards, John Morgan, 53 
South Pasadena, 

201 Orange Grove Avenue, 58 
Stock farm, 39, 40 
Sutherland, 22, 117 

Lydia Ann, 22, 36, 138 (see Bissell) 

Callie, 17, 42, 48 
Kitty, 17, 26, 117 
William, 16, 22-25, 117 
Eleanor (Putnam) (see Putnam) 

Sweeper business, 20, 36, 37, 52, 65 


[ 139 ] 


Schools 

Bliss, Miss, 40, 41 
Gunnery, The, 48, 53, 58 
Pennsylvania School of Architecture, 74 
Polytechnic Elementary, 62, 69 
Rensselaer, 53 
Swiss, 64 
Thacher, 57, 69 
Yale, 70 
Trips 
Bali, 86 
California, 33 
China, 72, 85 
Egypt, 68, 88 

England, 50, 53, 64, 68, 73 
France, 50, 53, 60, 70, 74, 75 
Germany, 50, 64, 68 
Holland, 70 
Holyland, 68 
Italy, 53, 61, 62, 69, 74 
Japan, 71, 83 
Java, 87 
Mexico, 75 
New Orleans, 37 
New Zealand, 77 
Norway and Sweden, 117 
South Seas, 76 
Spain, 53, 65 
Switzerland, 53, 64 
Vienna, 61, 75 
West Indies, 71 
Windsor, Connecticut, 1-15, 90 


[ 140 ] 





. 








































































. 
































































L McCAY 


1393 


~1 

Frederick 1803 
Almira 1808-186 
Elvira 1799=1885 
Mattison 
m. Delinda Cline 


1 


1902 


Melville Reuben, Sept. 29, 1843-Marcl 
m. Lydia Ann Sutherland, Dec. 2, 184< 


Harvey Sutherland, Oct. 22, 
m. Marjorie McLachlan, Fe 


‘anor, Mky 3, 1915 Dorothy Ann, Dec. 2, 1915 
Harold Sears Marjorie Jean, July 22, 191* 

James McLachlan, Apr. 10, 
Caroline, Oct. 8, 1923*1923 
Anne Sutherland, Oct. 2, IS 
John McLachlan, Feb. 16, 1 


:er McGregor 
v. 21, 1935 


ms.en Eldridge 
a. 15, 1938 



























FAMILY OF ANNA BISSELL McCAY 

Intermarriage Chart 


McCAY 


Wm. Baldwin McCay 


Wm. Wallace McCay 1790-1852 
m. Sarah Newbold 1790-1864 

I 

Wm. Barton McCay 1824-1868 
m. Sabra Ellsworth 1820P-1907 


Wm. Stewart McCay 1857-1935 
m. Anna Bissell 1868 

I 

Wm. Sutherland McCay 1900 
m Katherine Tilt 1885 


BROOKS 


Reuben Brooks 1784-1843 
m. Rocksa Pritchard 1808 

J — 1 


Lyman Brooks 
1794-1874 
m. Laura Bissell 


Lydia Brooks 
1803-1903 
m. Alpheus Bissell 


John, 1591-1677 (Emigrant Ancestor) 
m. Mary Drake -1641 

1 

Thomas 1630-1689 (3rd. child) 
m. Abigail Moore 1639-1686 


Isaac I 1682-1744 (11th child) 
m. Elizabeth Osborne 


Isaac II 1709-1777 (Eldest child) 
m. Sarah Stone 


Isaac III 1747-1823 (Eldest child) 
m. Abiatha (Alathea) Way 

- 1 -1 


Orange 1775-1841 (3rd son) 
m. Sally Guild 1777-1840 


Harvey 1780-1852 (6th son) 
m. Miriam Holcomb 


Laura 1794-1874 (3rd child) 
m. Lyman Brooks 1784-1874 


Alpheus, Jan. 24, 1801-Feb. 3, 1897 
m. Lydia Brooks, July 14,1803-Nov. 10,1893 


Frederick 1803 

Almira 1808-1863 m. Wm. Robinson 
Elvira 1799-1885 m. Elisha Lyon 
Mattison and Seth 1817 

m. Delinda Cline m. (1) Adeliza Gilletce 1823-Nov. 7,1856 
in. (2) Laura Pickens 


Harvey L. 1825-1901 
m. Lucy Korilla 1826-1906 


Ann Eliza 1827-Dec. 25, 1916 Mary L., 1837-May 31,1902 Melville Reuben, Sept. 29, 1843-March 15, 1889 
m. Wm. Henry Harvey m. Lydia Ann Sutherland, Dec. 2, 1846-Nov. 8, 1934 


Anna Dotelle, Dec. 11, 1868 Lily May (Made) Melville Reuben April 7, 1882 


1 


SUTHERLAND 


Charles Sutherland 


Charles Sutherland 1786-1861 
m. Tamor Traves 1783-1853 

I 

William Sutherland 1811-1907 
m. Eleanor Putnam 1S17-1853 


Lydia Ann Sutherland, Dec. 2, 1846-Nov. 8, 1934 
m. Melville Reuben Bissell, Sept. 29, 1843-March 15, 1889 


m. Wm. Stewart McCay May 31, 1871 

Feb. 16, 1857-March 7, 1935 Nov 20, 1878 

I 

Wm. Sutherland McCay, Feb. 16, 1900 
m. Katherine Tilt, Sept. 8, 1885 


m. Olive Bulkeley Jan. 21, 1884 


Harvey Sutherland, Oct. 22, 1884 Irving Joy 1888 

m. Marjorie McLachlan, Feb. 20, 1895 m. (1) Loraine Webber, Sept. 4, 1890-April 16, 1918 

m. (2) Clara Leland Ql<3s, April 18, 1896_ 


Barbara, Feb. 8, 1910 Ann Sutherland Eleanor, Mky 3, 1915 Dorothy Ann, Dec. 2, 1915 


1 


m. Robt. McReynolds May 17, 1912 m. Harold Sears 


Sabra Ellsworth 
Sept. 8, 1931 


-1 

Dorothy Bissell 
March 7, 1936 


Barbara Bissell 
June 4, 1933 


Peter McGregor 
Nov. 21, 1935 


Marjorie Jean, July 22, 1918-1924 
James McLachlan, Apr. 10, 1922-1926 
Caroline, Oct. 8, 1923-1923 
Anne Sutherland, Oct. 2, 1926 
John McLachlan, Feb. 16, 1931 


Charles Webber, April 24, 1911 Wadsworth, Nov. 6,1913 Melville III John Daniel 
m. Mary Matheson m. Hillary Rarden Feb. 28,1921 May 9,1925 


Aug. 3,1913 


Tamsen Eldridge 
Jan. 15, 1938 


Charles Webber Jr. 
1933-1934 

I 

William Fuller 
Oct. 20, 1935 


Dec. 24, 1912 


Brereton Wadsworth 
Nov. 3, 1937